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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

White Woman Syndrome

I'm certainly no news source, so I'm not breaking any ground on this story about 5 white kids killed in a fiery auto wreck.

But I will offer my two cent criticism to the media.

This is certainly tragic, but I don't know why it is headline news, listed no less than three times on the front page of CNN.com, including as the main story. Actually that's not true, I do know why its listed as the main story, as Drew Curtis from FARK pointed out, in his recent book, news media is not about giving us important news, its about giving us stuff that we want to hear/read about. And apparently, people want to read about some white kids who died in a wreck. Isn't there any other news to report on? Any politicians doing anything totally insane? Any service-people or civilians dying in American wars overseas? Any genocide going on?

And just when I thought I'd gotten a break from news coverage about another white woman. Oh, two white women actually.

Link: Wikipedia article on Missing White Woman Syndrome.

Updates on stuff

Quickly, because I'm busy at work today..

Krissi has been involved in a production of the play Oklahoma our our local theater, the Desoto Family Theater. She's enjoyed it mostly, and griped about it a little. I'm glad that she's had the opportunity to get into this, as she takes to Theater like I take to Role Playing Games. So I think its fantastic, and I've gone to see one of the shows, and am going again this evening.

Her folks were staying with us over the weekend, and I developed a quick cold virus, so so I did run on Friday and Saturday of last week, but I did not run Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. I did run on Wednesday, did 5 in ~50 minutes, which is cool. It rained cats and dogs on me part of the time, and I had my new running hat on, and I was so glad to get out and do a run, as I felt overdue. The Firecracker 5k is this coming Tuesday, the 3rd. I'm a tad nervous, not about the run itself, but about how my time will stack up to last year. Its silly, and no big deal, but it still makes me just a touch anxious.

We watched Death of a President last night, a faux documentary that is set some time after the assassination of George W. Bush. It talks about the assassination and the investigation and reaction afterward. It is, of course, political, and I enjoyed it. Know what's scary? Dick Fucking Cheney at the helm.

I think that's it. The rest of my time has been filled with Hearts of Iron 2, TSoY Drow, and other funness.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Running Roundup

Hard to keep myself in the habit of putting my running info on here.

Letsee.... I ran (I think) Tuesday and Wednesday, then Friday and Saturday.

My time on Friday for 5 miles was 48 minutes, my time on Saturday was a terrible 56 minutes for 5 miles. I blame Saturday's time on the huge hamburger I'd eaten just an hour or two before running.

Did not run Thursday/Sunday, and probably will not run today, as I feel the effects of a head-cold at the moment.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Call of Duty 4

Call of Duty 4 looks awesome.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Its hard to get a job

Apparently, its hard to get a part time job as well.

I'm just looking for it as supplemental income. We're not in a spot in which I have to get another job or anything. We're not under the water, we're just treading water - or have been, anyway. Now we're trying to swim. /analogy boy

We paid for lots of movies and restaurant trips and DVDs and other bullshit on credit cards, and fell into the good ole american credit dream nightmare. Well, as I may have mentioned here, I went to a Dave Ramsey seminar some time ago that Maddie and John were kind enough to give me a ticket to. I'm skeptical of anyone who wants to sell me anything, especially if its some variation of a "recipe for success", so I went in wonder how much smoke would be blown, and it turns out, not very much.

Now, I'm about as far removed as you can be from an accountant, banker, or anything else that you would associate with informed and responsible money handling. More simply, I'm a poor manager of money. I don't make terrible decisions, but I've made alot of poor decisions. So we find ourselves in a situation where are are not, as I said earlier, over our heads. I know that there are some people who owe more per month than they make. We're not there, though we weren't far from it. Basically, we're now on a budget. And I don't just mean that we "have" a budget, but we still buy random bull shit and just write it into the budget later.. We're living by it, baby.

And y'know, its not especially difficult or painful. We have of course our Bills - everything from our "Holy Fucking Interest Rate, Batman" Credit Card(s), to water/gas/light/cable bills, etc. Then we have our funds (envelopes!), like Groceries, Gasoline, and when we can afford it, Recreation. And it goes pretty well. We eat out less, which is okay. We buy less stuff, which is okay too, though I like buying stuff. We are a little more selective at the grocery store.. but we get what we need. We're not eating ramen noodles and crackers - we're still doing the diet/eat-healthy thing, and so I've found a few dozen fun and interesting ways to prepare chicken and some combination of rice or potatoes and green veggies. It's just tightening the belt. The idea here is that we can focus the money that we're now not using for Taco Bell and Best Buy and use it to pay down our car payments/credit card debts. We're about two months in, and its working for us. :)

But as I was saying - its apparently hard to get a part time job. Strikes me as a touch funny, I'm a white-collar professional, capable of holding down a steady and fairly well paying job, but for some reason, cannot seem to get the manager of a pizza joint to call me back and give me a job driving pie around town. I don't relish the idea of giving up a large chunk of my free time, but the additional income would put us just that much more in the black, and let us pay down that debt faster, and go back to buying DVDs at Best Buy - with cash that we own, instead of credit that we don't own.

ka-ching!

Monday, June 18, 2007

More tacky shit

I posted here about a ridiculously tacky - and in my opinion, in bad taste - coin memorializing the WTC. I saw it on TV, and it was so ridiculous that I wrote about it on my blog.

Here we are again.

So last night as I'm standing in the kitchen making delicious chicken-potato-broccoli-and-cheese casserole, I happen to see on the TV another OMG HOLY SHIT-FUCK just when I thought that advertising/consumers couldn't possibly become more stupid, I saw this. As before feel free to skip the link: I'll explain. Its a legal tender one dollar coin, that is a 100 year anniversary corvette coin - with light up headlights. For $20. But it's "triple-verified", whatever the fuck that means.

I don't know why I'm so appalled- I'm overreacting. We're not talking genocide here, but I just cannot believe that anyone would sell this, much less fucking buy it. Really, who buys this fucking shit???

/digress

[edit: Its slightly more funny, again, that people would pay $20 for something that is clearly marked, and advertised as being worth one dollar. I'd like to see a NASCAR fan pay for his snuff with that shit.]

[edit again: "The Republic of Palau’s government has authorized this groundbreaking legal tender issue. [...] It will never be released for circulation. "]

Update - running and gaming

Last week was kinda a poor showing for me on the running front. I think I did (as previously mentioned) 6 on sunday the 10th, then 5 on monday, then off on tuesday, 5 on wednesday, off on thursday, and I planned to do 5 on friday, but I helped my dad move some stuff, ate pizza, then went and tried to run at 8pm. I cut it down to 4 miles, but then only really ran 3 of the 4. =(

Didn't run Saturday/Sunday either, even though I kinda meant to both days.

Ran Werewolf on Saturday. It went well. It sparked some after gaming conversation - also Maddie was kind enough to listen to me ramble/rant about RPG theory and gaming for like 3 hours on Sunday - but it brought up discussion about various meta-gaming topics. During the course of the session, the characters were somewhat beat up, and on their way back to their lair when I plunked down something shiny - where "something shiny" equals the shadow of a log cabin in the spirit world, filled with webs - this almost certainly meant Azlu, the Spider Hosts. The players bit, and their characters (bloodied) went in to investigate, and were WALLOPED by the Azlu hiding inside, its presence practically promised. In truth, I was rolling really really well, and they were rolling poorly. It nailed two of the characters with wicked hits, and they didn't get a hit in at it. They bolted. The discussion after had to do with there being some small feeling of "Well you put it there in front of us, apparently you meant for us to check it out. Why did you put a big-bad-monster in our way when we were already hurt?". Which of course leads in to hours of me going on about "living world" vs "linear/fixed/arcade/video game style", and how I put it there so that the players/characters would have to make a choice. There was an obvious implied threat about the place. They were bleeding already. Would they check it out anyway, or pass it up? RPGs are about making choices, the more difficult the choice/more consequences related to the decision, the better.

Good times!

News Update: October 15, 1942

October 15, 1942

The German war machine continued its move across the globe this month. Since the defeat of the Soviet Union in December of 1940, the Germans have been largely unopposed in both Europe and Asia. The British and French governments continue to put on a bold face to the world, despite having lost Paris and France's European holdings in late 1939, and the German invasion and conquest of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in June of this year. German and Italian forces continue to push back the beleaguered British, French, Dutch and Belgian troops in Africa and in the Pacific. British resistance in Southeast Asia and India is effectively over, with a few holdout British islands still in the South Pacific, but with more reports of German troop ships in the area.

German engineers completed a new oil pipeline from its fields in annexed Iraq and Persia, guaranteeing to keep the Panzer armies on the move. And move they did, in September: waves of German infantry and tanks crossed the border into Republican Spain, crushing their opposition in the mountains before routing Spanish forces around Madrid and then swiftly taking control of Gibraltar, shutting off the Mediterranean to Allied shipping.

In a move that sent much needed hope to the few remaining free Allied zones, the USA entered the war, declaring war on Germany and promising to send ships into the North Sea to contest German naval superiority. Roosevelt promised that American soldiers would soon be sending the Germans running, and in the first fighting between German and American forces, an American naval task force attempted a landing on German-held Guadalcanal, but the entrenched German soldiers fought them back and denied them a beachhead.

The relationship between the Japanese and the Americans remains wary, but the Japanese still seem to have their hands full fighting what remains of the USSR, following the Japanese subjugation of China. After significant early victories by the Japanese, the Soviet forces have been slowly retaking lost territory near Manchuria and Vladivostok.

Will the beleaguered and tired British forces in Malta be able to survive their naval siege and air assault? Will the Germans roll back the British and Australians in the South Pacific? Will Britain become just another part of the German Reich? Or can America turn the tide of the war?

(Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday/Armageddon)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Game on, and running update

So my werewolf game lives on, which is cool.

After having put in 6 on Sunday and 5 on Monday, I took Tuesday off from running - didn't get home from work Tues evening until 8:30.    Ran Wednesday and did 5 in 52 minutes, and my calves were sore.  Then I stayed up too late last night playing Hearts of Iron 2, so I'm super sleepy at work today.  Planning to attempt to do the following things this evening:

Make Chicken Soup
Run
Hearts of Iron 2
Sleep

Monday, June 11, 2007

Run

5 miles: 51 minutes. Good weather, humid and warm. Legs were a little put out with me, felt more achy than I am accustomed too.

More gaming thoughts

You'll want to skip this one if you're not interested in me spinning my wheels with regard to Role Playing games and the social quirks surrounding them.

I had some very interesting conversations with some friends following my semi-meltdown over the weekend. A lot of good points were mentioned, and some interesting perspectives were raised. As a side note: sometimes I just like to hear myself talk (read my writing, as the case may be) about role playing games.

One thing that occurred to me, and I was delighted to be able to put my finger onto, is ranking System vs Story. D&D is a classic example of System First, Story Second. When the dice come up against you, sometimes you're dead. Tough break. Of course, people fudge rolls and such, but as a system, and I think that in most groups, that's the way it is. The system IS the game. Again: classic D&D. It is a set of rules designed to mediate the killing of monsters and taking of treasure.

To differentiate, in Story First, System Second, the system takes a distant backseat to the story and the characters. The rules are just there to give us some structure, but not to overshadow or take away from the story. TSoY is a system which seems inherently to be Story First. It is designed to be there just so your game doesn't fall over on its ear. I try to use this even in our Werewolf game. This past session, one of the characters wanted to do something risky. Really risky. I rolled some dice to determine the consequences, and shared that result. I explained that she could go forward with what she wanted to do, but these are the consequences for that action. I left it up to her to decide if she wanted to go that route, or seek an alternative. I let the player decide how things would turn out, instead of letting the system decide. The system played a part in the decision, but the system was not the final arbitrator, which is the way I like it. We're collaborating to build a cohesive (and fun and interesting) story. Otherwise its a glorified system of rolling on charts and tables with flavor text scattered about.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Woooo run

6 miles: 60 minutes.

It was warm out when I started, and by the time I finished it was good and HOT.

But it was a good run.

More.

Since its kinda early sunday morning, and this weighs heavily on my mind, I go on about it here.

Fuck!

Sigh.

Okay, so if this game dies, where does it leave me? If I get a second job will I even have any time for running a game?

It leaves me feeling awfully anxious though. Like I said, I can't imagine his reason for leaving. I didn't see any writing on the wall. There are some small points of friction in the group, but I'm talking small game-related stuff. I just fiercely wonder if it was something completely unrelated, or if somehow I neglected him or otherwise ran him off.

Man, otherwise, it makes me look at the way that I run games and interact with players. Like, I've read about folks doing surveys after gaming sessions, which always sounded like a cool idea to me, but that I figured my players might see it as a little overboard. And what to put on a survey?

Did you enjoy the session? Rate the session on a scale of 1 to 10. What did you not enjoy about the session? If you/your character could work on or accomplish one thing, what would it be (example: "I want to try to find the answer to the cipher we found in the library", or "It sure would rock of those terrorists we fought last time came back, this time with giant robots") Did you have fun? Do you think the other players had fun?

And it makes me concerned about my style of running a game. (Naturally, this has me questioning the very fabric of my gamer-ness, great) I try to play fast and lose, and I'm interested in focusing on the Players themselves, first, the game and character and story second, and the system a very distant third. I don't generate carefully scripted, tightly wrapped adventures ahead of time, but instead come up with a framework, and try to move through it while being adaptable to the players and their characters. As opposed to the old way of reading the adventure to the players, and smacking them when they color outside of the lines.

Grumble grumble, blah. /winds down.

Damn.

So one of my werewolf players just quit on me.

Out of the blue. No reason given.

Naturally, I'm terribly curious as to whether it was the players/GM, the game itself, or something entirely unrelated.

That sucks though. With him out, and Krissi having increasing obligations to her theater gig, it leaves me with a light group.

I'm frustrated too, because if this spells the death of this werewolf game, which I see as pretty likely, its the second game in a row that has been left completely hanging - unfinished. I hate not being able to bring closure to a game, and for the people who stick with me and have played in other games with me, I can't help but feel that game after game that gets left unfinished makes folks less likely to be interested in starting something anew.

Damn.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

running, pool, pizza, werewolf.

Wrapup:

Did another 5 miles on friday: 49 minutes. Took saturday off. Will get back onto the pavement on sunday.

Went to the pool today. It was good.

Applied for a part-time job at Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Home Depot and Blockbuster.

Papa John's is very promising, the manager said he'd call me on monday, and it sounded like I might be driving some pies around this week, perhaps. Exciting and a touch scary. Not at all sure what to expect really, I've tried to look up stuff related to delivery, just to get an idea of maybe what to expect. I've never worked for tips, and I guess drivers are only sortof working for tips, but its pretty new territory. I hope it works out alright.

Ran werewolf today. It went well, a huge battle was joined. I continue to have a problem that my players seem to be directionless. This could be from one of a number of causes - perhaps I'm not dropping any hints or am running too complicated a game, perhaps my players arent paying attention. I'm not certain of a good solution to this problem, either short term or long term. I don't want to steer them around by the nose: a game in which I just tell them "Ok go here, Ok go there". I feel though like I have to hand things to them to do. Like they just wait for me to hand the next task to them. "So-and-so calls you and asks you to do X,", or "Some guy busts in with a submachine gun!". Again, I'm not certain where this comes from. Maybe I've somehow encouraged this. Anyway, it bears further thought.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

running

5 miles in 53 minutes. It sure is hot out there. And its only June.

3 or 4 more on friday, then I'll take saturday off.


Also - Man, google tools are freaking awesome.

I've started using Google Reader recently, and today found Google Bookmarks and Web History. The google bookmarks are mighty nice, since I have a work computer and a home computer, and occasionally am elsewhere. Nice to be able to save links and pull them up anywhere.

thinking about games while running

Last night I did 5 miles in 49 minutes.

I've lost some weight, and my pants all fit funny now (where funny = a few extra inches in the waist).

While running, I thought about running a Dwarven TSOY game, like the dwarves in Midnight, where they're doing all that they can to resist the overwhelming flood of the Dark Armies. Then I thought about how my friends all drool over Drow games, and how I could run a Drow TSOY game, and they could fight dwarves. And I thought about how the Dwarves would be elementalists - able to ritually summon mighty earth and stone elementals, and they'd be able to shape stone with their hands. Hey - drow are bad ass, I feel like I need to pump dwarves up just a little, just to be a match.

Then I thought about running a game which, after I thought about it, was very inspired by Warhammer 40K, in which the PCs live on a planet called Halyton 7, a mining planet. The planet was colonized and domed some 3,000 years ago, and has been totally given over to the armament industry. It would be separated into Factory-Cities, and of course, somewhere on the planet would be an abandoned Factory-City, that was just talked about in rumors and whispers. The Factory-Cities would be populated by hundreds of millions of people, each part of a clan related to some aspect of the armament industry. In Bolter Factory-City 3, there are Frame Clans, Bullet Clans, Stock and Mechanism Clans, and so on. All very tribal and low-tech meets hi-tech. That was as far as I got with it, but I enjoyed the bleak, contrasting, rust-covered mental picture that it evoked in my mind.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Running report

Monday: 4 miles in 40 minutes

Tuesday: 5 miles in 48 minutes

Woot.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Badges!? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges!

Dobbs: "If you're the police, where are your badges?"
Gold Hat: "Badges!? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!!"


Two stories to quickly relate, both stories are similar, and both relate to the quote above.

During Memphis in May, my brother in law and a friend of his came down to stay with us so that they could go enjoy the festivities. Enjoy they did, and as they were leaving the festival area late one night, walking back to their vehicle through the narrow downtown Memphis streets, a car approaches at not-especially-slow-downtown-speed, and Travis' friend says to him "Hey, move or this asshole is going to hit you." The asshole in question car stopped a short way up the street, and their path carried them by it. The occupant wanted to know if he'd said something, and Travis' friend confirmed that he had spoken. Now, I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly what was said, but apparently the guy gets out of the car, and tells Travis' friend to put his hands on the car, that the guy is actually a cop. T's buddy responds that he'd like to see a badge - the guy is in street clothes. Apparently the fellow responded by putting the "cop moves" on him, and placing him against the vehicle in a not-particularly-gentle fashion. Anyway, the guy never showed them a badge, and after checking to make sure that the two didn't have any warrants, he went along his merry way.

Apparently this past weekend, the pregnant daughter of one of our facility supervisors was driving to his home. Apparently she was stopped by an unmarked car, I assume with a blue light, and a fellow in street clothes. I'm not sure what the offense was, but apparently he asked that she get out of the car. She refused, saying that she would be happy to drive the short distance further to her destination, and then get out of the car. Apparently this was not sufficient, and he insisted that she exit the vehicle. She called her dad, who showed up just a moment later, and walked toward them to see what was up. The fellow told him to get back into his truck, and our facility manager said that he'd be happy to, if he was shown a badge. Well apparently our facility manager ended up in handcuffs, but it was sorted out and I guess everyone went their separate ways. But the facility manager said that after his meeting this morning, he was going straight to the police station and sharing his opinion with someone on this matter.

This is all to say: don't cops, especially non-uniformed cops, have some obligation to show you some form of identification?

I have alot of respect for police. I think that they do a hard, tiring and thankless job, and I respect that and their authority, but it worries me when there are examples of what seem to be people abusing that authority. These weren't even particularly heinous, but it just seems completely reasonable to me that if someone starts ordering me around, that I should expect to be able to see something to indicate that this guy is who he says he is.

I am vain, and I will brag

Running goes pretty well.

Last week, I did Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 4 miles each day. Did them in or close to 40 minutes each.

In addition I've been doing as many underhand and overhand chin-ups, push ups and some sit ups (blech, hate sit ups) as I can do.

But I've noticed some real difference. The diet is helping as well. I picked up some extra weight over the winter, since I was a huge slacker and did not run for months and months, or do any other form of exercise, really. I've managed to drop that extra weight, visibly speaking. I'm not one of the guys from 300 yet, but I'm pretty pleased with myself in the mirror.

More running in the forecast this week.

Firecracker 5K soon... Printed out the registration forms for the St. Jude Half Marathon for the end of this year... I need to replace my shoes probably. I'm a bit nervous about the Firecracker. My time last year was pretty good, and of course I'm tempted to try to beat it. But I do not feel that I'm in any better shape than I was last year, so I'm fearful of failing to beat my time. I just need to run hard and see if I can pull it off, I think.