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

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Canoing on the Harpeth River

Also this weekend, in addition to the Memphis Zombie Massacre, we helped the Youngers move from their old place into their new place. Then, Saturday afternoon, Krissi and I and Yazhi drove up toward Nashville to go camping and canoing at the Harpeth River.

We got in Saturday early evening, setup camp at the crowded camp site, cooked some food, enjoyed the outdoors, and went to sleep. This was Yazhi's first time camping/in a tent, so the noise had her barking a couple of times in the night, but we kept her in the (spacious) tent with us, so we could shush her. We all slept pretty well, then were up at the crack of dawn to purchase coffee, since I had not been able to bring proper supplies with me to make coffee, and we prepared yummy camping breakfast and headed to the river with canoes. We put the boat on the water, put Yazhi in the boat, and she immediately leapt out into the water and began to panic. She was doing a doggie-paddle-tread-water-oh-shit-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into thing. We've observed her to be a fine swimmer previously, I think that the leaping into the water and not finding any footing just confused her enough that she panicked. Anyway, I was able to swiftly haul her back into the canoe, and she immediately leapt back in on the other side. Actually - I don't think it was so much leaping of her own free will, as much as it appeared to be. If you've been in a canoe, you understand how strange balance is in one. She'd go to one side, and stick her head over, the whole thing leans to that side, forcing more of her weight to the side, against the edge of the canoe, and she had no traction or leverage, and so after a half-second scramble, over the side she went. I guess we're just fortunate that she didn't spill the whole thing, us included. Anyway, we again got her in the boat, and actually got shoved off and into the river. She learned quickly, and didn't make the same mistake again. We paddled for a bit and enjoyed the scenery. We were out early, apparently most folks get out in the afternoon, so we saw only a few other people on the river. It was slow and smooth, and quite shallow - there were only a few places that seemed to be deeper than four feet. I heard that the river was quite low though, having not had any significant rain in some time. And we did bottom out and had to push through a couple of small areas. The weather was fantastic though, clear and warm. We did a long trip, 11 to 12 miles. Yazhi stayed in the boat a goodly portion of Sunday, but she'd hop out into the water when we went through particularly shallow areas and she could see the bottom. She swam like an otter, and loved the water. We reached the end of our route around 2 PM, waited for the van to come haul us back to camp, and then set about doing some hanging out, reading, and laughing at our tired and sleeping dog. We made some yummy camp supper and went to bed pretty much as soon as it was dark. Monday we were up early again, and on the water quickly. This time, we didn't have any panicking, but we did spend about half of the trip in the water. She swims like a fish, I tell you. She seriously swam three or four miles. By the end though, she was completely worn out, though she put on a brave face. We had a great time on the water both days, enjoying the weather and the company and our swimming dog.

We'd packed up our camp early Monday, before hopping into the canoe, so once we were done with the river, we hopped into the car and headed back to Memphis. Pics from the trip are here.

On a side note: people are stupid and vile creatures. There were a couple of spots along the river that there were discarded cans and trash. I just don't understand why people can't take the small amount of effort to clean up behind themselves. It really makes me angry, and its that frustrating, ineffective angry. Feels like there's nothing I can do about it. I mean, I can certainly carry around trash bags with me, and clean up other people's fucking trash.. Oh, and apparently some people think that its okay to take animals, perhaps from federally protected land. One family of particularly country folks were collecting turtles on their trip down the river. The same group who flicked cigarette butts into the river. Makes me feel angry and impotent. I feel like if I say something, even politely, I'll only accomplish getting into an argument or fist fight, and if I don't I just stand there like a dumb ass. So I stood there like a dumb ass. I just hope that karma has something in store for those folks. It makes me feel a tiny bit better.


This past Friday evening we participated in the Memphis Zombie Massacre.

We had a ton of fun. We got all made up and joined well more than a hundred other people, and walked through downtown Memphis. Our path carried us down Beale street, Memphis' popular local and tourist bar-crawl area, then down Main, where there are tons of small shops and art galleries, and they were having a Trolley Tour, where both locals and tourists come to enjoy the galleries. So we had tons of spectators for our march. Almost everyone that I saw watching the march was very entertained. We passed couples and families and old folks and folks trying to eat expensive looking food and so on. The zombie crowd was really good. People seemed to be having a good time. Lots of costumes ranging from super cool and scary, to people with a dribble of fake blood on their tshirt, to everything in between. People could hang out in the crowd, and wear duct tape on their clothing to mark them as zombie victims. When spotted, the zombies would then take off after these people and zombify them. This worked pretty well until the end of the march, when everyone was out of extra blood, and I think folks were tired. We had a couple of duct tape clad civilians walking along with us, who wondered aloud why they weren't attacked. We confessed that we were all out of blood, and I guess maybe we should have given them a quick mauling anyway. We'll bring gobs more fake blood next time.

Anyway, enough text, now some pics, and a video.

Someone did a small documentary of the zombie walk, seen here.

We took tons of pics, which I uploaded here.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Ran yesterday: 4 miles in 39 minutes. woot. Did the last mile in 9 minutes. It was good. Probably not going to be able to run again until Monday or Tuesday, due to busy weekend plans/out of town-ness. And I failed my Save vs. Krispy Kreme donuts this morning. Grrr.

PS - stealing two cool links from

Stupid Falwell quotes

Falwell in Hell comic

Geekery of the Star Wars variety

Here are some links related mostly to Star Wars. Enjoy.

Investigative reporting: Was the destruction of the Death Star an inside job?

Regarding the implausibility of the Death Star's trash compactor

Funny video: Vader phones Emperor Palpatine about the destruction of the Death Star (from Robot Chicken)

Physics of the Death Star's super laser explained

Wikipedia Death Star entry

Frickin' awesome size comparisons.

Have a good Memorial Day Weekend. I'm doing the Zombie Walk, helping some folks move, and going camping/canoing.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

ohyeah: running

Haven't kept up lately, with posting that is.

Did ~3 miles on Saturday, and another 3 on Sunday.

Ended up taking both Monday and Tuesday off, but hit it hard on Wednesday and did 4, and they were good. Did them in 44 minutes, I think it was a 10 minute mile, two 11's, and a 12 there at the end :P

Going to go try to do another 4 this evening. According to a calorie calculator I found, if I do four 10-minute miles, I'll burn 600 calories.

I figure on average I intake between 1,200 and 2,500 calories each day, and on days that I run, I burn ~3,000.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Creating a living world, no fed-ex quests

Random gaming thoughts:

I'm a big fan of running games that I make up whole-cloth. No published adventure for me anymore, thanks. I enjoy the freedom that it gives me in order to give back to my players. I can make a game that revolves around and is based on the characters, not one in which they're somewhat-interactive spectators.

One of the difficulties that I've run into with this approach is creating a living world. I am fine with creating the good guys and the bad guys, and all of the folks in between, and even giving them motivations and goals and things like that, but what I sometimes run into difficult with is coming up with Quests To Give To The Players. I should pause - that's not my actual verbatim approach, but kinda defines what I'm running into.

No matter how fun the game is, the 10th time that you have to Go Do Something For Some Guy So That He'll Give You What You Wanted In The First Place, it starts to feel repetitive. Sure, there's tons of variety, go Get This, go Deliver This, go Kill This Guy, go Mediate This Dispute, go Find This Thing, go Ask These Questions, go Snoop Around This Place. I guess it feels like I've fallen into a rut of viewing the characters as errand-runners for the people in the game.

In what ways can important and semi-important NPCs interact with the characters, in ways that are not so contrived? Let me pause again, I feel kinda like I'm asking "Okay, but how do I build a house?" which is not a question with a quick, simple answer.

I've even spared a few minutes to think about how things work in the "real world". Granted, there aren't as many dragon-hunters, or vampires or ghost-catchers in the real world, but I was trying to quantify how interactions work. And maybe, again, I'm taking the wrong approach. My mind now jumps to movies like Lock-Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which is, I suppose, an infinitely twisted series of "fed-ex quests". Perhaps a small part of the difference is that instead of entirely being "Mr. Johnson tells to you run out and fetch him the such and such", the characters there were sometimes placing themselves into a predicament, and though asked for particular results, the motivation was different (I'm thinking of the gambling debt).

Anyway, there's my thoughts. Suggestions?

In other news:

How about a weekend wrap-up?

Friday evening we got to hang out with the Maddie & John. Saturday we slept in, bummed around, played some computer games, did a 3 mile run with Maddie, and had my mom over. We watched For Your Consideration, which was fantastic - very funny, I highly recommend it. Sunday I got up early and did 3 miles, and it was great weather for running. I went hung out at Starbucks for a couple hours before noon, then went home where I rounded up Krissi and Yazhi, and we went down to Arkabutla Lake, and did a picnic lunch, let Yazhi enjoy the water, and did a little Geocaching (one find, three didn't-find).

Also - since we're dieting, I've gotten tons of mileage out of chicken. I can make a different variety of chicken dish every night of the week, and compliment it with seasoned rice or potatoes, and corn or green beans or broccoli. Just.. well, bragging a little, I suppose. Friday night I cut up chicken into bite size pieces, covered it with mustard, and cut up a lot of purple onion and threw it all into a skillet. Fifteen minutes later it was DE-LICIOUS. Last night I did chicken breast on the grill, threw some seasoning on it and let some shredded cheese melt on top of the chicken. I like cooking, and using basic, simple ingredients, in simple-to-prepare combinations. We've been universally pleased with the results.

Sorry, I'm pretty boring ;).

[insert exploding duck, and gun battle that takes place between secret agents standing on the wings of a pair of bi-planes as a battery of catapults hurls previously mentioned exploding ducks into the air.]

Edit: I forgot. I also turned in applications for a second job. I'm on the debt-reduction tip, and apparently I'm willing to give up a few hours of my free time for some more cash. We'll see if I end up: A) Working in a grocery store, stocking shelves, B) Working the front desk in a fitness club, and cleaning sweaty machines, C) Working at Starbucks, D) Waiting tables at Huey's, E) Doing IT work at the local community college - or even teaching some kind of computer class. F) Something else entirely.

Pain the neck


I have developed a recurring neck pain, that I recall as far back as ~1998/1999. It only surfaces once in awhile, without any pattern that I can discern - sometimes infrequently, once every six months or so, sometimes more frequently, twice in a 2-3 month period. I wake up with it, and it becomes worse over the course of the morning. It sometimes fades somewhat by afternoon, but it sticks with me for 2-3 days usually.

It has on at least one occasion been painful enough that I cant hold my head upright, and instead held my head as though I was constantly looking at a spot on the ground in front of my feet. If I recline, or lay my head back, or hold it in just such a way, straight forward, I don't feel the pain, just a slight tension in the muscles of my neck and shoulder. When I move my head and neck though, I can feel it very distinctly. It feels like muscle pain, but I can't be certain. The pain when I move my neck like this is certainly enough to be distracting (and enough, apparently, that I'll blog about it...) The muscles do not seem to be sensitive to touch or pressure, though my wife has sometimes been kind enough to give me a forceful neck rub, and she (and I) can feel knots in the muscles - and these are sensitive to the pressure. The pain starts on the back of my neck, usually slightly on the left hand side, but today on the right.. and extends down into Trapezius Muscle, and - I think - into the Sternocleidomastoid muscle (I'm not making it up - looking here for guidance.) And if I turn my head just wrong, the pain sometimes shoots down into the Deltoid. I'm no good at describing pain, but I'll try to quantify it: when I turn my head wrong, it feels like someone in pinching the trapezius muscle.

I don't know of anything that would be a likely source - I do not have any old neck injuries, I don't play sports. One suggestion was that it could be related to computer use. Another is that it could be stress related. I don't feel particularly stressed.

Anyway, every time it crops up, I seriously consider visiting a chiropractor, but I've never been to a chiropractor before, don't know any good ones, and don't know how many bazillion dollars it would cost me. Or whether a chiropractor could even help. Plus I'm a little frightened that its some kind of weird nerve or vertebrae damage. Looked up chronic neck pain on the intarnets, but I'm not having any 100% matches.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


440: the number of calories in a mcdonalds sausage biscuit.

Sorry, this is a stupid post, but I am compelled to whine here anyway.

I'm doing the healthy eating thing.. some people refer to this as a "diet". Its not super restrictive, but there's not alot of room in it for 440 calorie sausage biscuits. Mmmmmmmmmm sausage biscuits.........

So instead, I had a 100 calorie Apricot Mango yogurt. It was also yummy, but not quite as delicious as that sausage biscuit..... mmmmmmm...

There are three 440 calorie sausage biscuits sitting downstairs on the break-room table. Sigh.

Tool, cars, etc.

So the Tool concert was great. We were sitting in the nose-bleed section, but had a great view of the stage, so I don't think we could have gotten better seats. It was sold out, though there were some seats adjacent to us that were empty. It was a good sized crowd, and there's always a little entertainment to be had in people watching. It's funny to see the variety in attendance. Soccer-moms and software programmers, punk-rock teens and twenty-somethings, college frat boys, and so on. Tool puts on a really good live performance, and are very visually oriented. The stage platform was a reflective white surface, and served as a screen onto which light and video was projected, along with the three huge projection surfaces at the back of the stage, and another three above the stage. They do tons of wild video work, some of it was their videos, which are great, but alot of it was very distinctive Tool-style (though I assume they didn't invent it) video. Stuff that's bazaar, random, and mildly disturbing- shapes, patterns, etc. Wish I had an example. Oh here we go: "Vicarious" from their show in Vienna. The stage and lights and so forth are identical to the show we got in Southaven. I have no idea what he is wearing - it looks like a gas mask. Was not close enough to clearly make them out at our show.

I think that this is the setlist:
46 & 2
The Pot
Lost Keys
Rosetta Stoned
Wings For Marie
10,000 Days

I'm terrible at keeping up though.

So anyway, the concert was great. Krissi and I, as well as Maddie and Jason went - John had to cancel at the last minute. It was Jason's first concert, and I think that he enjoyed himself.

Unfortunately, after the show, Krissi had a small car wreck. It rained all night and she hit someone. That someone then took off. Her airbags did not deploy, and she was uninjured, but quite upset. The car's front end is pretty banged up, but it drives. Here we come, auto body shop repair and $500+ lighter in the wallet.

Also, I'm feeling much better this morning, though still a little bit allergied up. By yesterday evening, before the show, I felt like shit. Like my skin-suit was too tight, and itchy, and I had the stuff-head and lethargy thing going. I perked up some at the concert though, and hopefully have kicked my quick Hay Fever thing. Did not run last night, but will either run this evening or Thursday evening. Also, congrats to Maddie for getting back into running the other day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Going to see Tool in concert tonight.

I'm not the Tool fanboy that I once was, but I'm eager to see them.

I do not see alot of concerts. In fact, I've been to maybe a dozen concerts in my life, and that's counting open air college performance stuff too.

Also, allergies are still TOTALLY kicking my ass. I feel sickly now, even. Itchy eyes, stuffy head, lethargic...

no more BBC for me

I started listening to National Public Radio in the car a few years ago. Did away with commercial radio stations entirely, and a large part of the reason was the advertisements on radio. For some reason, radio ads totally set my teeth on edge.

I also found that one of my local NPR stations does a BBC broadcast part of the day. This was awesome, and I became very attached to listening to their news and programming. They've got great programming!

A few weeks ago, the NRP station that rebroadcast BBC went off the air. Apparently it didn't have enough audience to keep it going. And I surely miss it. NPR plays classical music during the day, which is nice, but is not BBC.

I can webcast BBC, but I miss it in my car. =(


Allergies are kicking my ass bigtime.

Ran yesterday, and somehow knew that it was coming on - perhaps all of the freshly mowed grass gave it away.

Got home and pretty much sneezed the entire rest of the evening. Haven't been taking the Claratin like I need to - so I'm going to take it regularly.

Allergies = suck.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dark Days are Coming

If ever a game (and an MMORPG at that) was going to get my interest, this one will It's called The Secret World. (link is to flash site. Related wiki here and here)


4 Miles this evening.

On a lark I took my pulse/blood pressure afterward:
pulse 134
bp 129/66

I thought this thing would record my heart rate, but it doesn't, or I don't know what it is/how to read it.

Also did 3 miles this past friday evening. Let myself have the weekend off.

Unrelated: watched The Good Shepherd over the weekend. I liked it alot, though everyone else thought it was dull.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Running tips.

Did 3 miles yesterday. woot.

Considered making my running posts Private, or Friend only, since I don't know who reads this, and whether the running posts are just blogspam or not.

Looked up running tips this morning, cause I was thinking about it. Reposting here with originating links.

These 100 tips from: http://completerunning.com/archives/2006/09/12/100-beginner-running-tips/
Apparel Tips
1. Wear spandex shorts under your regular running shorts so you don’t chafe “down there.”
2. Cotton socks will only lead to blisters; invest in socks designed for running.
3. Ladies, do not skimp on a bra. Even if it costs more than your shoes it’s still a bargain.
4. Buy running clothes you look good in and that will motivate you to run.
5. Buy new running clothes at the end of the season when stores dump the old season’s line. Think clearance!
6. Join your local running club—check with your local running store fitness center and/or recreation department to find one.
7. Volunteer at a local race—meet runners support runners and connect with your Community.
8. Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers (e.g. when you get that cup of water at the aid station) and family and friends who support you.
9. Conscientiously share the trail with walkers, bikers and other runners.
10. Always try to balance running with the people you love by making a schedule that involves and is considerate of everyone.
11. Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.
12. Don’t neglect and irritate your family and friends by spending all your time running and talking about running.
Motivation Tips
13. Sign up for a race as soon as you feel up to it.
14. Find a committed running partner. It is much harder to skip a run when you have someone else depending on you.
15. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.
16. It gets easier.
17. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.
18. Be prepared to remove the words “can’t” and “never” from your vocabulary.
19. “Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
20. Don’t expect every run to be better than the last one; some of them will hurt.
21. Don’t think too much about it or you won’t do it.
22. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.
23. If you normally run with music try skipping it and listening to your feet to hear your pace and your gait.
24. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience weight loss immediately.
25. Start a running blog and read other running blogs regularly.
26. Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too.
Nutrition Tips
27. Buy the powdered sports drink mix instead of premixed. It’s cheaper and more similar to race drink mixes.
28. Each pound you lose makes running a little easier.
29. Hydrate. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.
30. If you are running very long distance drink enough electrolytes (e.g. Gatorade).
31. On long runs eat something every hour—whether you feel like it or not.
32. During longer runs if you don’t like to carry water take some cash in your pocket pouch or a shoe wallet. Run a route where there’s a corner store that you can use as a pit stop to pick up your water and maybe use the bathroom.
33. Avoid eating spicy foods before running and the night before your long runs.
34. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.
Prevention Tips
35. Use Vaseline or BodyGlide wherever things rub. They will help prevent blisters and chafing (guys don’t forget the nipples).
36. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
37. Guys: Band-Aids before the long runs. Your nipples will thank you in the shower afterwards.
38. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.
39. If you are prone to shin splints and lower leg pain try running soft trails for your Training runs and save the asphalt for race day.
40. Do not run two hard days back-to-back.
41. Ice aches and pains immediately.
42. Pay attention to your form. Try to run lightly to minimize impact that could lead to injury.
43. Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.
44. When trail running don’t forget the bug spray.
45. Neosporin (or another antibiotic cream) is good for chafed areas (if you didn’t use your BodyGlide!).
46. Make sure you cut your toenails short enough so they don’t jam into your Shoes!
47. Put some BodyGlide between your toes on long runs.
48. Be careful about running on paths that force you to run consistently on a slant. It’s hard on the hips knees and IT bands.
49. Don’t stretch before a run. Warm up by walking briskly or jogging slowly for several minutes.
50. Do not ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
51. Do not use the hot tub after a race. It will increase inflammation and hinder healing.
52. Frozen peas make a great ice pack for aches and pains. A thin t-towel wrapped around them makes the cold more comfortable.
Racing Tips
53. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.
54. Do not try a marathon as your first race.
55. For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.
56. If you conserve your energy during the first half of a race, you can finish strong.
57. When you pick up drinking cups at aid stations, squeeze gently so it folds slightly and is easier to drink from it while you are moving.
58. A plastic garbage on race day is a very fashionable cheap disposable raincoat.
Safety Tips
59. Be aware of cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right. Try to pay special attention when running with music.
60. Run facing traffic.
61. Never assume a car sees you.
62. Give horses wide berths on trails and walk as you pass them unless you enjoy a hoof to the melon.
63. Always carry I.D. because you just never know.
Shoe Tips
64. Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are bigger.
65. Doubleknot your shoe laces so they will not come undone when you run.
66. Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.
67. Get assessed for the right kind of running shoes.
Training Tips
68. In the immortal words of Walt Stack famed senior-citizen distance runner “Start slow … and taper.”
69. At first keep your runs short and slow to avoid injury and soreness so you do not quit.
70. If you are breathing too hard slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again.
71. Pick your route close to home (out your front door)—the more convenient it is the better chance you will have sticking with it.
72. Find a beginner training plan for your first race.
73. Set realistic short term and long term goals.
74. Keep a training diary.
75. Soreness one to two days after a run is normal (delayed onset muscle soreness).
76. No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.
77. There’s no shame in walking.
78. Subscribe to a running magazine or pick up a book or two on running.
79. Four laps around the local the high school track equals one mile.
80. Lift weights.
81. It’s okay to take walk breaks (run 1 minute walk 1 minute then progress to run 10 minutes walk 1 minute etc.).
82. Vary your training routes. This will prevent boredom and prevent your body from getting acclimated.
83. Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.
84. Push through rough spots by focusing on the sounds of your breath and feet touching the ground.
85. Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.
86. Practice running harder in the last half of your runs.
87. Do abdominal breathing to get rid of side cramps or “stitches.”
88. If you can’t find the time to run, take your running gear to work.
89. Run on trails if at all possible. It will be easier on your body and you’ll love it.
90. Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.
91. Forgive yourself. Over-ambitious goals usually lead to frustration and giving up on your fitness plan. If you miss a goal or milestone let it go and focus on the next opportunity to get it.
92. Mix-up your training plan. Make sure your training plan is not too heavily focused on one thing. No matter what level of runner you are your training plan should include four essential elements: endurance speed rest cross-training.
Weather Tips
93. Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.
94. Wear sunscreen and a hat when the sun is beating down—even in winter.
95. Run early in the morning or later in evening to avoid mid-day heat.
96. Pick up a pair of Yaktrax when running in icey conditions.
97. In the winter dress in layers (coolmax or other technical clothing) and wear a headband over your running hat to cover your ears.
98. For colder climates invest in socks rated to 40 below (usually found in sport/ski shops).
99. To keep cool in hot weather soak a bandana in cold water wring it out a bit and tie it loosely around your neck.
100. For hot weather fill your water bottle about half way lay it at an angle in the freezer and just before you head out for your run top it off with more water.

I need me one of these: http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpage-BHMH.html

Also, looks like during winter if I wear that mouth and nose cover that I got while skiing, it should help.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Zombies Invade Memphis

So. Awesome.

If I'm not off camping in Kentucky that weekend, I'm totally going to be a Zombie in downtown Memphis.

Hey! Memphis people! Spread the word, and come join the massacre!


4 miles yesterday, woozah!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Shows with good conflict always make me think of role playing

Just like I said, shows with good conflict always make me think of role playing. Particularly some of the stuff on HBO, like the Sopranos, Big Love, Entourage, Deadwood, Carnivale, and FX shows like Rescue Me and The Riches.

They make me think of good role playing that is driven by the characters and their stories. Think about it! Those are shows that largely do not revolve around killing tons of orcs or dragons, and don't even necessarily feature PCs that are supremely powerful demigods, forcing their will upon the land. Instead, mostly those shows rock because they have compelling characters, and powerful stories. They thrive on the relations between the characters, and the conflicts among those characters.

When I talked ranted about characters/players in D&D games a few posts back, I think what I was trying to say is hinted at here. Why can't there be tons of cool games that I'm running and playing in that are like this stuff? I need to play some Sorcerer.

Oh, I ran 3 miles this evening. And it was good!

Supernatural TSOY

What if there were a Shadow of Yesterday game that took place in a somewhat altered version of our modern reality?

What if in that game, the PCs were normal people, capable of completely abnormal feats.

What if they could throw cars?

What if they could use the power of their mind to stop bullets?

What if they could move so fast that they eye couldn't even follow?

This is that game.

Proposed rules:
Modern TSOY. Normal.
Capable of feats that defy logic and physics. Use the innate abilities, Endure, Resist, React, to perform incredible feats. Use a scale of 1-5 penalty dice for increasingly impossible tasks.
1 penalty dice: weird task. Levitate or throw dice or cards with one's mind.
2 penalty dice: Lift the front end of a heavy truck. Hurl books, plates, machetes, etc with your mind.
3 penalty dice: Shatter a reinforced concrete wall with your shoulder. Throw a person across the room with your mind. Land on your feet after leaping from a three story building.
4 penalty dice: Lift a bus, uproot a telephone pole and use it as a missile.
5 penalty dice: Throw a bus a hundred yards. Juggle automobiles with one's mind. Move with such speed that you can be in two places at once. Land on your feet after leaping from a 30 story building.

Let players use gift dice and pool bonuses to give themselves bonus dice to these incredible tasks, to diminish the penalties from the penalty dice. These tasks aren't supposed to be easy, especially the insanely difficult ones, they're just supposed to be possible.

A few suggested guidelines:
No flying. Or allow flying - superman style flying, at a penalty of 5.
No mind-control and illusions, no fireballs. These are not D&D sorcerers, or even characters from white-wolf's Mage. They're people who can twist reality right around them.

Influences: The Matrix, Night Watch, Constantine, Supernatural, Heroes, Unbreakable

Weekend Roundup

I mentioned running just a moment ago, so there was that.

The rest of our crew was out of town this weekend, partying in Vegas, so Krissi and I held the fort down. Her brother, Travis, and a friend of his were down, partly for his little monthly music gig that he's got, and partly for Memphis in May. It was good to see him. Family, both family that is yours, and family that has come to be yours, can be difficult. I'm fortunate and do not have any hair-raising or particularly harrowing family difficulties, just the (I guess) usual "Someone who does not normally live here is here, and is touching all my stuff." Which is not to say that I don't appreciate having my brother-in-law down, but I'm always glad to get my home back - I think its because it throws off my routine. Travis and his friend did some sleeping at our place, but aside from that, they were out and about during most of their time here.

Krissi and I kept ourselves entertained playing console and computer games. We were babysitting Jason's Wii, and so we picked up SSX Blur for the Wii on rental to play it. It was cool, but just like the gamespot review said, some aspects of it were frustrating, particularly the Ubers and the Slalom. Ultimately, I spend a couple hours with it, and then fired up the xbox and put in SSX3 and was SUPER UBER in like 5 minutes. Heck yeah. I also ended up loading Burnout 3 for awhile.

Also, we did some hardcore budgeting this weekend. Working on getting our finances and spending under control and diligently focusing on paying off our debt. It is both terrifying and exciting. Terrifying because we have alot of debt to pay off, and even with diligent effort, its going to take some time. But its a good thing. We don't have any huge holes in our finances. Krissi doesn't have a $2,000 a month shoe habit, and I don't um, buy tons of expensive cigars or something [insert expensive personal habit here]. Though I do still want a serious computer upgrade, and I'm weighing it with our budgeting and so forth. Anyway. Wish me luck.

Oh - saw a copy of Night Watch, and it was, as advertised, cool as hell. I'm eager to see Day Watch.



I ran 3 miles friday evening, and 3 miles Saturday afternoon, and almost did another 3 on Sunday, but the weather was threatening to work against me, so I did not run.

I'm sleepy today because I had difficulty falling asleep last night, but I intend to go do 3 this evening.

Friday, May 4, 2007


Dear Jerm,

Go run tonight. Fix the flat tire on the taurus, grab the Wii for your wife, see if they have SSX Blur for rental at Blockbuster, resist the desire to go right to playing Sims 2, get your running clothes on and do... hm, lets say TWO miles! At least. Two miles. (You should be doing 3, slacker)


P.S. No more pizza for you after this week, for awhile. Also, you should have turned down the free snickers bar. +30 sit-ups!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Not interested in having a say

In no other circumstances have I seen people so willing to just go along with whatever is planned.

In most social circumstances, they're democratic efforts at passing the time. Lets watch this movie, or lets play this game, or lets go to this place. But I have found that some gamers want no say in what kind of game they're going to take part in. (Oh, but they'll bitch about it later, when they dislike this aspect or that aspect!)

I have actually had people respond, "No, I don't want to talk about the game. I don't want to have to decide what game we are going to play. A good GM will just have a game ready. I can just show up and we'll play." Blind faith like that is.. well, its something. And honestly, I wonder if it might be particular to my situation - it could be a negative backlash to my constant effusing about democratic gameplay and stuff.

"Old school" gaming, well, old school by my reckoning, I think its still the norm in D&D: does not inherently involve any discussion about what you're going to play. Your buddy Chuck calls you up and says "Hey! I'm running Forgotten Realms! Come play!", so you grab your paper and pencils and dice and head over. The only thing that you know so far is that you're playing in (nasal lecturing voice) a fantasy world steeped in varying cultures, with dangerous creatures and wizened wizards and (/nasal lecturing voice) blah blah blah blah. At this point, all you really know is that you're going to be running around with the likes of Elminister and Drizzt. But what kind of game are you going to be playing? Sneak thieves in an urban setting? A group of ex-soldiers turned mercenary, in search of their next meal? There's no real focus or theme to it. Now, I suppose you might get to Chuck's place and he's got the latest published adventure in his hand, that provides some focus to the game, but it may not provide any focus to the characters. Two hours later, you've got a Sneaky Spellcaster, Thog the Barbarian, A guy who's thing is his mount, which happens to be a big lizard, and a priest of the god of doom and suffering. No cohesion, no focus, no commonality. And I do think that this is the norm. People who get together to play D&D approach it with the mindset of "What is the coolest character I can make today?", rather than "How does this fit with the other characters? How does this fit with the world, and what we're going to be doing in it?" They've come to a group sport ready to play an individual game.


I hate it when I wind down and am left without a point or anything really to end on :P

more running

So over the weekend I participated in the 2007 Trot for Spot. Yazhi was a Humane Society rescue. The Memphis Humane Society has a new facility that they were hot to show off, and it sure is nice. However, the event was kind of a cluster fuck. There were tons of participants, and volunteers and staff at the facility. When it came time to do the 5k walk/run, I took off in the lead, and a few other runners took up behind me. We found the course to be almost not marked at all. Like - we took a few wrong turns and had to go back, and eventually when I'd lost sight of everyone else, I had to make educated guesses a few times about where the course was supposed to go. And it was longer than 5k. And there were maybe one or two watering stations the whole way. Anyway, I'm still glad I went, hopefully it will be better next year. It was a tough run/walk for me, but it felt pretty good.

Yesterday, on Tuesday I got out and did 1 1/2. It felt good as well - though I need to be doing 3 or more when I do these - though I had a little bit of minor muscle pain. As far as I can tell, from Google, its the Peroneus Brevis muscle or tendon, or perhaps the Peroneus Longus tendon. Its on the outside of my right leg, about six or seven inches directly above my ankle bone. It does not hurt in a way that makes me think that I've damaged it or pulled something, instead it feels like a tight, tired sore. Even now, sitting at my desk, it does not bother me at all, but if I flex my foot and ankle around, I can feel it just a bit.

But anyway, I'm excited about running, and I'm excited that I'm excited about running. I need to work on getting myself back up to some reasonable distances, and then work on keeping with it.

By the by, where does time go? We're nearly half way through the year, and it seems like just the other day I was posting about my goals for the year.

I have apparently stopped biting my fingers and nails, and have been in good shape for probably two or three months. Yay! I'm running the werewolf game that I started back in January, and am working on getting a Shadow of Midnight game off the ground, though its a bit slower to get moving. What else..... It's a pretty good year so far - just fast.


If you don't see me for a few days weeks, its because I've (re)discovered The Sims 2, and am rearranging my kitchen, or lying new floor tiles, or throwing a party, or trying to burn down the house, or something.

Back later.