Nuadha's Tale

Ignorance can be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, August 31, 2002

At work. On a Saturday.

Researching a problem file, I sent the check to them a year and a half ago that we are now not sure why it was sent. We are now billing them for it and the lady has been on the phone chewing everyone she can out because she swears her company doesn't owe us but she can't explain why she doesn't owe us the money. Everything she has faxed has done nothing but confirmed that she owes us. Then, I remember the whole situation. I deal with hundreds of requests like this each month. If I remember your request a year and a half later, either it was either really complicated or you were really rude. This one had both going for it. Luckilly, I can clear this up now.

Now, I wish D. still worked here. He was the one who brought this file over to me before to see if I could help her after he couldn't deal with her anymore. Same lady. I want to go over to him and say "can you believe this!? She's back and she's still just as obnoxious and uncooperative!" He'd remember her.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Gaming: WISH 11
Have you ever seen or met someone -- in person, on TV, in a movie, or whatever -- who made you think "Oh my goodness, that's my character!" Who was it (if you know), and what were the similarities?

Yeah! It's the casting game with my characters!

I can think of a few of them.

Alexander Dulac Silver- (Amber Diceless) I was looking for a trump image for Alex a while back. It's not easy since Alexander had been described as looking to be in his mid twenties, thin, with white/silver hair and intense eyes. Then I caught a bit of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer on TV and Spike looks exactly as I pictured him. However, it gets better. Carla and I were watching Buffy last Tuesday and the episode had some cool scenes where Spike was just talking not with his usual bad-ass attitude but with more of a self concious "yeah, I know I'm an evil bastard but I still need love" attitude. Suddenly, I could see the actor not only looking like Alex, but playing Alex. You see, usually Spike is just sarcastic and Alex isn't the sarcastic type. Plus, Spike has a psuedo-british accent like Alex would. (Alex was raised in England, spent several years in the US, returned to England in WW2 to join the RAF and eventually moved to the Courts of Chaos. I figure he has a "sorta british" accent.

Jubei- (Champions) Jubei is my immortal Samurai character. Samurai Jack (the cartoon character) IS Jubei. When I first saw the cartoon I was amazed how much he sounded like the voice I use when I play Jubei and the only thing he is missing visually is Jubei's eyepatch.

Chango- (Champions) Chango is a mutant with the ability to generate lightning which almost always ends up being more destructive than it needs to be. (Chango doesn't believe in doing things small.) Dee-Jay from the video game Super Street Fighter 2 looks exactly as I described Chango. I think I may have been unknowingly thinking of Dee-Jay when I described him because I even described Chango as wearing big baggy pants with his name CHANGO in bright orange letters down the sides. (Chango is very flashy and outgoing.)

Lilly- (Champions also) Lilly is a mutant who (like the X-Men character Rogue) steals the lifeforce of anyone she touches. She can also shapeshift which she mainly uses to turn into a demonic looking combat form. Most of the time she shapeshifts into a punk look. There's a character in the comic book Gen 13 that looks exactly how I picture Lilly even down to her clunky boots. I'm not to familiar with the comic but she's the one with black hair with a streak of red.
I'll try and find some pics to post.

Funny Stuff
This is too funny. Still, he seems smarter than some politicians.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Because I know at least one person will get a kick out of this comic....

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in ZERO gravity.

To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 degrees Celsius.......

The Russians used a pencil.

Can a sitting president be charged with plagiarism?

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

It figures.
Just as Carla and I are saving for a house and can't afford to spend money on frivilous things, an eBay seller is selling a whole bunch of original Elric art on eBay. I like this original pencil from the Stormbringer RPG the best. The final inked piece was one of my favorite pieces of art from the roleplaying game. (I told you I like the angsty stuff, didn't I?) The guy must have bought someone's collection. There's also a Mike Mignola piece and a few where he did not know the artist. I think the Mike Mignola piece may have been for the White Wolf collected editions, although I can't place it. Maybe someone paid MM to draw it at a convention, but I don't imagine that MM would have the time to do commissions at a convention.

Most of the items are probably going to close extremely high, so I guess I wouldn't have bought them anyway.

All my words are secondhand and
Useless in the face of this
Rationale and rhyme and reason
Pale beside a single kiss

-Sisters of Mercy

All morning, I've had "Eyes on Me", the theme song to Final Fantasy 8 stuck in my head. I've tried listening to other music, but any moment I haven't been actively listening to something else, I've found myself humming "Eyes on Me." I can't seem to get it unlodged from my brain.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Testing the Dreaming City site at work today (to see how it looks on a PC), I noticed that it, like many other websites, is stored in the computers memory and when I pulled it up, it pulled up the first version of the site without the additions from the weekend. I seem to remember reading about an HTML tag that tells a browser to refresh the page whenever it is gone to, but I can't find it any books. If anyone knows the command, could they leave me a comment? I'm stumped.

Gaming: eMail Roleplaying
I'm not a fan of playing roleplaying games by email. My few experiences with this style of roleplaying have been mediocre at best and at times terrible. I had played out scenes of ongoing face-to-face campaigns and decided from there that I had no interest in this style of game. Sure, it was nice to play out one-on-one conversations via email, but any time a third character or GM was involved it became awkward. Plus, I found it very difficult to "feel" the character I was playing when the character would only say a few sentences in an email and then I would wait several hours or days for the reply.

So, I was a bit disappointed to find that Michael Kucharski's "Mercy and Forgiveness" Ambercon campaign was starting to have a lot of roleplaying via email after the con. Right away, players were emailing eachother and fleshing out some of the scenes in between scenes we played at the con. Still, I really enjoyed playing my character, Anoki, and I was willing to try.

It's almost six months later and while this experience has not changed my opinions of email gaming, it has given me some more insight in where email gaming shines. Some of the scenes between and Anoki and just one other character have really helped to define his relationships with these characters. It has also helped me to remember who he is. I may play Anoki in a game at Ambercon North, but if not for that I would not have played him for a year by the time next year's game came around. Thanks to the email roleplay, I am keeping the character fresh in my imagination.

One thing I have noticed is that some players/GMs are better than others at leaving you an opening and giving enough information in the email that the plot doesn't drag. Unfortunately, it's not always so. Sometimes the other player writes too much without leaving any obvious option in their text for the other player to insert their reactions. In one scene I played out with another player, his character had had poured a glass of gin from his bar, handed it to Anoki, made a toast and drank before I had a chance to reply. Anoki doesn't drink alchohol. (An admittedly rare thing amongst Amberites, Anoki does not drink for religious and social reasons.) The other problem I've had is when a player or GM doesn't give you much and the scene seems to crawl. If the GM is GMing a fight and all you email out each thrust, parry and maneuver, a scene takes forever and I quickly lose my interest. Another player character and Anoke have been fighting against some giant "wolf-like" creatures for weeks and my enthusiasm is long gone.

Monday, August 26, 2002

We're housin'
Carla and I left the house Saturday morning so someone could look at our house. Carla went shopping while I went to the library to drop off books and take the dogs walking in the adjacent park. Then, we went house hunting ourselves.

The first house was built in 1944. It had a brick front with ivy. In the back yard was the coolest deck and a little garden on the side opposite the garage. Inside, the house had many levels because each room had a few steps up or down to enter it. This made for a pretty cool layout.

The second house was pretty spacious, but hideous. The bright pink shag carpet was the worst part. Not a chance.

Carla seems to have her heart set on the first one. It is very cool, but I don't think we should be getting our hopes up yet. We still have to sell our current house. This could take a while, but I'm trying to remain optimistic.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

I'm tired from spending the day walking around the Rennaisance Festival, so I'm not going to post much right now. I just wanted to post a quick link to this comic which I know some of my friends would enjoy.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Human for Sale
I'm selling for the bargain price $2,149,170.00! I can't decide if this site disgusts me or is just funny. Maybe, it's a bit of both. Anyways, morbid curiosity made me take the quiz.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Yes Virginia...
I'm feeling a little better tonight. Now, I'm just tired. I wanted to get some cleaning done somtime tonight, but that isn't happening. Too tired.

I was just reading some more of John Adams and one of those missing "puzzle pieces" of history was filled in for me. I've read many times that one of the reasons JA had insisted that Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence was that he was a Virginian and that a Virginian ought to write it. The thing I wasn't sure of was why Virginia was so important. I knew that the "pro-independence" crowd was having a tough time convincing Virginia to support Independence, but that was true of many colonies. Tonight I read that when Adams and the other men from Massachussets arrived at the second Continental Congress they were met by some Philadelphia patriots who warned them that:

[The Massachussets Delegates] were perceived to be "too zealous" and must not presume to take the lead. Virginia, they reminded, was the largest, richest, and most populous of the colonies, and the "very proud" Virginians felt they had the right to lead.
-David McCullough, John Adams

Of course, John Adams had offended enough members of congress that if he wrote it probably would never have been taken seriously. He really was perceived as too zealous and had offended many of the other delegates.

If I'm the one to do it,
they'll run their quill pens through it.

-sung by "John Adams" in the musical 1776

Well, it wasn't just my sinuses. I started feeling feverish about noon. I came home and lied down for a couple of hours. I'm up now, but still feeling pretty bad. Lucky for me, my loving, beautiful wife thought ahead and bought me juice yesterday. I'm pretty sure she clairvoyant.

Every time someone in my office gets sick, the whoel office seems to get whatever they bring in. It's probably because we have such poor ventilation and a crowded office. It pisses me off. Now, I'm going to end up missing the Unknown Armies game tonight. Hopefully, I'm better tomorrow. I think I will be. I'm really burning up right now, which in my experience means its almost over.

I did a little more work on The Dreaming City, but I'm tired now. I'm going back to bed. Enjoy.

I should have just stayed in bed this morning. I woke up with a bad headache and they usually go away if I takes some Ibuprofen and go back to sleep for a while. Enough of my department has called off sock lately, that I could have called in sick, layed down until the headache went away and used the rest of the day to make sure the house is ready to be shown Saturday. Instead, I came in and the headache has managed to get worse, even with IB.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The Dreaming City
There isn't much content yet but here is The Dreaming City. It's my first web page, so it's pretty simple.

I also plan to do a website for Nobilis and Changeling sometime.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The first name of Nuadha creates a dual nature for, on the one hand, you desire change and varied experiences in order to avoid monotony, and yet you are attuned to system, order, and attention to detail. You can be very analytical, exacting, and patient in your undertakings until your interest is exhausted, at which time you switch to something else even though it means leaving your undertakings unfinished. This name makes you inquisitive and scientific in your approach to life, requiring everything to be proved to satisfy your skepticism. You can be a stickler for detail, and very fussy and particular. As spontaneous verbal expression can be difficult for you, you often feel awkward and embarrassed in situations requiring tact and diplomacy. This name creates strong physical desires, such as an appetite for heavy, starchy foods and meat. Tension affecting the solar plexus and digestive organs could lead to ulcers, growths, or constipation.

This sounds fairly accurate to me:

As James, you have a natural interest in the welfare of your fellow man, and a desire to help and serve others in a humanitarian way. You are responsible and generous, although somewhat scattering and disorganized at times. Any jobs requiring systematic and conscientious effort, or involving any form of drudgery, dismay you. In your work, you would seek a position offering self-expression through contact with people, such as sales or teaching, or a position giving scope to your creative, artistic talents. You are good-natured and likeable, and people tend to confide in you and seek your advice in personal problems. Others sense your sincere interest and desire to help, and you can always be counted on to see the bright side of any problem. You enjoy making others happy and you never let your own problems "get you down" for any length of time, even though you do tend to worry too much at times. Your optimism can be a source of inspiration to others as well as yourself. In close personal relationships you are usually thoughtful and considerate. However, your natural interest in others, coupled with your sympathetic reaction to problems, could draw you into emotional situations which may be difficult to get out of. Health weakness would appear as skin conditions or ailments relative to the liver. A tendency to overeat quick-energy foods aggravates any health problems.

(Found at this website and emailed to me by a co-worker.)

Gaming: "Mostly Diceless"
We played Unknown Armies last Thursday. The game system really fits the way I've always liked to play: "Mostly Diceless." I don't mind playing with no dice and I have nothing against games where dice is rolled a lot (Champions is one of my favorite games) but when I GM, I like to have the occasional dice roll. Most actions, even most fights, don't really require dice rolls. If your highly trained Knight meets up with an Orc guarding a Pie that he wants and he decides to fight him instread of offering to buy the Pie, then why bother rolling. The outcome is pretty much a given. The only time a dice roll should be required is when the outcome isn't a given AND it is important to the scenario. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

Of course, when the outcome is very important, it's nice to be able to let the dice fall where they may. I may have said this here before, but I'd like to say it again. As the GM, I want the players to succeed. I want them to live. The dice don't care. This adds a real threat to the game. They might not succeed. (In my games they usually do, but it's not a given. I don't think it should be.)

Unknown Armies seems to support this kind of roleplaying. The basic percentage that a skill is listed at is the chance that a character succeeds in the worst case scenario. Anything less and why require a roll?

Unfortunately, in last Thursday's game, I could tell the GM was not used to putting the dice aside. He had us roll for some pretty mundane things. I've never played with B. as a GM before, but I know he usually GMs a D&D game and it showed. Hopefully, this week he'll be more comfortable.

One of the things I'm really liking about UA is the "sanity" system. UA is a game of modern horror and magic. Like Call of Cthulu, characters will be exposed to all kinds of stress that could possible push someone over the edge. In CoC, Investigators are given sanity points that slowly deplete until the poor sould gets an all-expense paid trip to teh asylum. In UA, they broke the different types of sanity tests in to categories like "Supernatural", "Helplessness" and "Violence." When a character is exposed to these things they may become hardened that type of test or they may start losing points. Becoming harened against something can be almost as dangerous as losing it. A character who becomes very hardened to violence may shoot a hostage to get at the bad guy. The character is so desensitized to violence that they don't feel the wrongness of it anymore. "The girl was dead no matter what, Chief. I had to make sure the guy didn't escape."

Saturday, August 17, 2002

What is your Alter-Ego

(Via Prozac Conniption)

Friday, August 16, 2002

Ender's Game: The Movie
They're turning Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game in to a movie. The official website says that Wolfgang Peterson is going to direct it.

Good news: The Buffy Roleplaying Game is out.

Bad news: It's $40.00. Why are RPG books getting so damned expensive?

Gaming: Orc and Pie
The world's shortest (but technically complete) roleplaying adventure.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

This weekend
I was hoping on putting up the website for the Nobilis game this weekend but it seems like I won't have the time for much of anything. Tomorrow night I'm playing Unknown Armies. As I stated before, I'm really impressed with what I have seen so far. I look forward to seeing how well it works. Friday night I've been invited to a suprise birthday party for a friend. Saturday morning, I'll be going to work. That night C. and I are going to a graduation party for a nephew. This was dropped on us at the last minute. Maybe I can get to it sometime Sunday. I want to have something to email the players when I get the list and a website would be nice.

Overheard on the elevator
Two women from my work were talking about some woman in Thailand who commited suicide at the zoo by jumping in with "starving alligators." "She didn't scream or anything. She just smiled while they ate her."

My first thought: That was very nice of her. The alligators were starving.

Then, I think about it: Thailand is a Buddhist country. I may not have been far from the truth.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Free Speech Radio News
They have a website. It's at

They have yesterday's newscast downloadable.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Bush Watch: On the Waterfront
I was listening to Free Speech Radio News on the way home and it seems Bush is fighting to take another American right away under the wartime excuse. This time its the 1935 National Labor Relations Act that is under fire. The Longshoreman's Union has been in talks and several major corporations (including Walmart's and Nike) requested that Bush step in. True to form, Bush has now threatened to call out the National Guard if the Unions don't settle. He claims that if they decide to strike it would be a threat to national security and he is just flexing his wartime powers. I'll try to find some links.

The Blogger Book Club
This morning I was talking to a coworker, Bill. Bill and I are both readers and usually talk about what books we're reading. For example, he has been trying to read Fellowship of the Rings for several years now. He keeps getting distracted by other books, but really wants to read it. He lost it for a few years and started over from scratch last year. I'm constantly joking with him about how far (or not) he has made it in to the book. He'll mention a history book he's reading and we'll talk about it for a bit and then I'll ask, "So Bill, has Frodo left the Shire yet or is Bilbo's party still going?" For a while I thought Bilbo's birthday would last longer than he had been alive.

Last week, while I was out recovering, he emailed me at home to let me know that Bilbo disappeared! I also was able to recently update him on the book I have been slowly working through for the last year, John Adams. John finally married Abigail a few weeks ago.

This morning I told him I started Stranger in a Strange Land and he said that was on his "to read" list. (He reads very little fiction and even less sci-fi, so this was a tad suprising.) I guess a friend gave it to him a while back. He said, "I should read it now then, so we can talk about it."

This got me thinking about the book club idea. Th one thing that never appealed to me about book clubs was the scheduled meeting. I have no interest on being told when I need to finish the book so I can discuss it. Plus, I like talking about the books during the reading. But, with blogs people could post about the book as they read it. They could put a warning in the beginning about how far they are into the book, so people won't read any spoilers. For example, "I just finished chapter three and I'm beginning to think the butler really did do it. Seems too cliche to me but the maid did say she saw the butler leaving the pantry with Professor Plum carrying a wrench." By starting out with "I just finished chapter 3", everyone would know not to read it until they were also at that point.

So, if anyone is interested, I was thinking that participants would take turns suggesting books. Once a month, whoever's turn it is would name the book and anyone who wants to participate could join. If the book doesn't sound interesting at all, you could wait until th enext one. The book could be any genre, fiction or non-fiction but should be something thought-provoking. It should also be a book that doesn't require a bunch of prevgious knowledge. (In other words, no advanced physics books or fiction books that require the reading of three previous books in the series to have any clue what they are talking about.) If a fiction book, it should also be one that has an ending. (In other words, no cliffhangers.)

Example of an acceptable book: In Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, Interview with the Vampire is acceptable. It does not require previous knowledge of the series (it was the first book) and it had a proper ending. The Vampire Lestat does not need you to read Interview, but it ends with a cliffhanger and Queen of the Damned builds heavily off of the events of The Vampire Lestat. Neither would be acceptable.

Is anyone interested in this? Since, I am suggesting the "Blogger Book Club" (or BBC), I figure someone else should be the first to choose a title. You wouldn't have to finish the book during the month, just try to. So, if you start it and you don't like it, you can drop it. Just be respectful of other people's opinions. If you don't like the book, it doesn't mean the other people are wrong. Use common sense.

I love it. I need it. I have to give it up.

One of the things that I have read about Sinus problems is that if you have sinus headaches, you should cut back on caffeine. Now, I drink a lot of pop. On average, I probably drink about 60 ounces of diet pepsi day.

I know myself. I'm no good at cutting back. I cut back for a few days and then fall back in to the old pattern. That's why I ended up switching to Diet Pepsi. I was drinking so much pop during the day at work that the calories were really adding up and it showed. I need to quit cold turkey.

I haven't had any caffeine today and only had a sip of pop yesterday. I'm amazingly not grouchy and I don't have a caffeine withdrawal headache. It was really tough about 11 this morning so I gave in a little and bought one of those herbal energy drinks to get me through. I haven't had a problem since.

Now, if they would just make a Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi Twist....

Gaming: Unknown Armies
My Champions group is going to be taking a break from the superhero gig again for a while starting this week. Bill has volunteered to run Unknown Armies. The system sounds really good. It's percintile based and sounds like a great alternative system for Amber roleplaying.

Here is how he described it in his email:

There are four stats in UA: Body, Speed, Mind, and Soul. You have 220
points to divide among all of them. 50 is human average, 70 is normally
human maximum, and 30 is considered atrophied or retarded. Soul, for
purposes of this game, is a rough mix of Ego and Charisma; it's your empathy
stat. I don't think I have to go over what all of them do for experienced
players like you, nu?

You also must choose a brief description for your stat. For example, Neo
from the Matrix might have:

Body 55% (A little wiry)
Mind 40% ("Not too bright, though")
Speed 80% (The Chosen One)
Soul 90% (Inexplicably charming)

Then, choose your skills. You get several skills for free, though you can
buy them up:

General Athletics 15%
Struggle: 15%

Driving 15%
Dodge 15%

Conceal 15%
General Education 15%
Notice 15%

Lying 15%
Charm 15%

Now here's an important thing to know about UA character creation; yes,
these stats are low. Most of the time, under non-stressful circumstances,
you won't have to make a roll - or if you do, it'll be equal to the stat
it's based on. These stats are based on what you could do UNDER THE MOST
STRESSFUL CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND. Anyone can target shoot, sure, or study
Aikido - but when someone suddenly appears behind you, charging down a dark
alleyway with a knife and yelling, "I'MA KILL YOU MUF****!", well... I think
we all know the story about the brown belt who did well in class but just
broke down during his first real fight. Likewise, we've all lied about our
whereabouts or charmed a stranger at some point - but how well do you lie or
win someone over when Vinnie the Snake is holding a gun to your head,
saying, "If we find out you're wrong, your brains are gonna be all over that

Not well, probably. That's what UA is based on, and a lot of standard UA
characters have no skill over 30. Buy your skills accordingly.

Anyway, you have X points to spend on each skill, where X is the relevant
stat, and 15 bonus points to spend where you like. For example, if you
bought a 60% Body stat, you have sixty points to buy on Body skills, and if
you really wanted to be bodyriffic, you could spend another 15 total.

There are two things to note about the skill process:

1) I GIVE YOU NO LIST BECAUSE THERE IS NONE. Make up your own, and feel
free to get creative. If you buy enough Struggle, maybe it changes from
Struggle to Beat The Shit Out Of Someone. My character in this weekend's
game had such Mind-based highlights as See The Threads In The Tapestry
(figure out who benefits from any given action), Got You Now (rattle someone
significantly when he has an advantage on them), and he also had the
Soul-based Face In The Crowd (he wasn't very noticable and could fade away
when he wanted to).

Other examples:

Body: Crack Your Knuckles Ominously, Hold Your Breath, Hold Your Liquor,
Large And Hard To Move, Enduring Torture, Lifting Heavy Stuff

Speed: Do Two Things At Once, Fast Draw, Squirrely Reflexes, Pick Someone's
Pocket, Blow A Guy's Brains Out, Snatch, Skitter Up A Wall

Mind: Respect My Authority, Doublethink, Hypnotherapist, Photographic

Soul: Friends Everywhere, Aura Sight, Commanding Presence, Good Old
Whatsisname, Play Dumb, Vocal Imitation, Sing The Blues, Getting People To
Buy You Drinks.

2) ONE SKILL IS YOUR OBSESSION. It doesn't necessarily have to be your
highest skill, but it should be reasonably high; it's what you do well, what
you get up in the morning for. You rarely fail at this, since it's what you
live for, which means that you get to flip-flop rolls for this skill;
meaning if you wake up in the morning and all you can think of is Beating
The Shit Out Of Someone at 55%, if you roll a 93 - normally a failure - you
can flip-flop that into a 39, which is a success.

Lastly, you need to choose your three Passions: Rage, Fear, and Noble.
Everyone in the game has these hot buttons that drive them, and even the
scummiest criminal has a soft spot - Hitler did want to make Germany a
better place, after all. These are a phrase or a one-sentence description
of the things that will send you into a fury, terrify you, or cause you to
rise up against your better (or worse) nature. They do have a couple of
important game mechanic meanings, but we'll leave those for now; suffice it
to say that if you choose them in character, they'll both help and hamper
you, just like any other passions.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Religious Intolerance

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The establishment clause in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. constitution.

"The military should rethink their position. That's not a religion."  G.W Bush, governor of Texas, referring to the Wiccan religion.

The "Burning Times Award" given to U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia


Stranger in a Strange Land
I read something recently that suggested this. It said that to become a better writer it helps to become a better reader. It gave several suggestions on ways to pay better attention to the words and the structure of the sentences and it said that when a particular passage strikes you to write it down and then write a small something about it.

Having enjoyed a few other books by Heinlein, I picked up Stranger in a Strange Land a couple of years ago. It has sat comfortably on a bookshelf waiting for its day. Last night, I finally got around to it.

"Oh, I admit I don't go to church much, but I was brought up right. I'm no infidel. I've got faith."

"Good. Though I've never been able to understand 'faith' myself, nor to see how a just God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion out of an infinitude of false ones- by faith alone. It strikes me as a sloppy way to run an organization, wether a universe or a small one. However, since you do have faith and it includes belief in your own immortality, we need not trouble any further over the probability that your prejudices will result in your early demise. Do you want to be cremated or buried?"

I loved this whole scene. Jubal is trying to talk Duke out of making judgements on other cultures based on his own beliefs. This particular passage made me really feel more connection to Jubal Harshaw. His reasons for never understanding faith mirrored my own. This is one of the reasons I think I enjoy reading Heinlein so much. He makes you think and sometimes I recognize some of my own thoughts in his characters, so I feel more connection with them.

Two pages later:

"I didn't get any 'training at my mother's knee' not to be a cannibal. Hell, I didn't need it; I've always known it was a sin--a nasty one. Why, the mere thought of it makes my stomach do a flip-flop. It's a basic instinct."

Jubal groaned. "Duke, how could you learn so much about machinery and never learn about yourself a tick? That nausea you feel--that's not instinct; that's a conditioned reflex. Your mother didn't have to tell you, 'Mustn't eat your playmates dear; that's not nice,' because you soaked it up from our whole culture--and so did I. Jokes about cannibals and missionaries, cartoons, faerie tales, horror stories, endless little things. But it has nothing to do with instinct...because cannibalism is historically one of the most widespread of human customs, extending through every branch of the human race. Your ancestors, my ancestors, everybody."

Besides Jubal's debating style and ideas, I love the natural dialogue. In this whole scene the dialogue between the two characters seems very natural. The sentences aren't always completed or properly structured as it would be if you were writing some thesis.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Gaming: An Amber Scenario
(I woke up thinking about this. I don't remember what got this idea started. By the time I was conscious enough to know what I was thinking, the whole scenario was there.)

Two Minutes to Midnight (alternate title- Strangeshadow)
Amber and the Courts of Chaos have been on edge since the end of Random's reign. While the diplomats have avoided a full-scale war, the threat lingers. Now, Chaos has developed the ultimate weapon. Their new doomsday weapon could destroy Amber and it's neigboring shadows with ease. Experts believe that it would also cause a chain reaction that could destroy the universe. To protect themselves they have designed to be set off if anyone tries to attack the courts. Are they insane? Are they actually crazy enough to build such a weapon? It appears they are, but there is no need to worry. Dworkin is back and he has developed his own weapon. The clock is ticking.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Carla should be home soon. We're going out to eat and by Jo-Ann's so she pick up some stuff. Nothing exciting tonight on account that we are both working in the morning.

Work has really been stressing her out. I can't wait until her project is finished.

So, I've decided to base my Nobilis Imperators off of the angels of Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology. For example, instead of using Lord Entropy (one of the concepts I didn't care for in the game) as the darkest one, I will use a fallen angel, Iblis. (In Islam, Iblis is the name for Satan. I like the name better.)

One of the neat things I am learning is the depth of Angelic lore. I had heard of some of the variety of angel types and appearaces but until now I have never seen just how rich this stuff is. It makes me wish I had more of a chance to play In Nomine than the one horrible session I was subjected to. (I will have to tell that story someday. It's one of those games that was so bad I still cringe.)

Now, the problem I have is that I can't find any angels dedicated to animals. None of the three religions seem to have an archangel dedicated to the animal kingdom as far as I can tell and I need at least two Imperators of animals for the plot. I could just make up an angelic name, but I'm not good at making up names that still sound cool. If anyone knows an angelic protector of animals, please let me know. Either that or I may end up taking Hebrew word for animals and adding -el at the end. -el means "of god." That is how most of the angels got their names.

(Useless comic trivia- This is also how Superman (Kal-el) and his father (Jor-el) got their names. The creators of Superman (Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster) were Jewish. Kal-el means "Swiftness of God" and Jor-el means "Wisdom of God." )

Political Quotes
The greatest danger in any argument is that real issues are often clouded by superficial ones, that momentary passions may obscure permanent realities.
-Mary Ellen Chase

I like this one. Everytime the flaws in the system start to show in mainstream news sources, something seems to come out that gets people swept away from the heart of the matter. It may be another news item completely like a celebrity murder that citizens shouldn't be as concerned about as they usually are or some action that the government takes regarding this issue to make us all feel good while not changing anything. For example, for a little bit there the question was coming out "Does Big Business have too much power over Washington?" People we're seriously starting to look at how Big Business (Enron mainly) was involved in shaping national policies that profited the corporations while hurting the masses. Next thing you know, we are being told that it is just a few bad eggs and Bush does a big hoop-la about Corporate Responsibility and passing all sorts of bills. Focus is put on the criminals and taken off of the billion dollar question.

People on the whole are simpleminded, in whatever country one finds them. They are so simple as to take literally, more often than not, the things their leaders tell them.
-Pearl Buck

Generally, I have high regard for the human race. I believe people are generally good. Still, anyone who takes what a politician or anyone in power literally and doesn't try and see the true motives is a fool. Many (if not most) politicians are fighting for their own agendas which are not usually to help the common man.

The distinction between a democracy and a dictatorship tends to disappear during war.
-Frieda Wunderlich

Bush wants a war that shows no sign of an end. He wants a war against an invisible enemy with no national boundaries. He wants us to be scared and give him (and his administration) more power to fight the war. Congress has already given him the blank check for the war. He fights against the creation of an international court that could bring the against the US charges for any warcrimes it will commit in this war. His administration has pushed to change the law to allow the military to act as police, a military that answers directly to the Commander-in-Chief and that has the power to detain someone indefinately without charges. He is trying to give himself the powers of a dictator.

Ambercon North
I have my game selections in. I only had three open slots for games, so it didn't take too long to choose.

Smart Bird
Crow makes tools! Read all about it!

Thursday, August 08, 2002

I'm not feeling "talkative" tonight.

Too much information
Went back to work today. I'm still a bit sore from ...well, you know.

The worst part today is that I had to shave *cough* down there for the surgery and the hair is growing back in. Stubble is most irritating.

You are 34% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

(Via Double N)

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Collateral Damage
We pray that God might guide us to use [the bomb] in his ways and for his puposes
-Harry S. Truman, 1945

Kristen pointed out that today is the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I'm betting that the evening news fails to mention this, but will do all sorts of stuff to mark the anniversary of 9/11 in a little over a month. Americans love to forget that our country was responsible for one of the worst "terrorist" attacks in history. About 200,000 civilians were killed by a single bomb. These days the American propoganda machine would be quick to label them collateral damage. I still call it murder. The American history texts tell us that it was done to end the war and to prevent further deaths, but when the bomb was dropped the defeat of Japan was already assured.

When I was in middle school, a social studies teacher had us read John Hersey's Hiroshima. I think everyone should read it. When I read it, I saw for the first time that my country was not always right and that a war fought like that can never be justified in any way.

This morning the news channels were playing an audio tape of the sounds inside the WTC on 9/11. An undercover FBI agent was wearing a tape recorder inside the WTC when the plane hit and they released it today. The talking heads were saying that this is a rare chance to hear the horrors of what happened that day and played a clip of some woman screaming that her husband was still inside. Pulling on the viewer's heart strings, they seemed to me to be playing it just to get an emotional reaction. They want us to get emotional so we'll support the invasion of Iraq that Bush wants. They want us to look the other way when we start bombing the citizens of Iraq whose only crime was being born in the wrong country, teh same crime that excused the killing of thousands in Japan years ago. The White House wants to invade Iraq and other middle eastern counries to remove leaders that won't open up their country to American oil companies, not to help those people and not to "fight terrorism" but as long as the media can keep American citizens worked up about the attacks of last year, they'll get support for their war; a war for oil and big business. A war that will kill innocent people and get our own soldiers killed just to line the pockets of Bush's big business buddies.

Don't you know we've got smart bombs? They're such smart bombs, they only kill bad people.
-Oingo Boingo

A man in a hot air balloon realised he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied, "You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the woman, "how did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help so far."

The woman below responded, "You must be in Management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault." 

Monday, August 05, 2002

Throw in a little fear and paranoia and we start wiping our butts with the Bill of Rights.
-Sara Pezinni in tonight's episode of Witchblade

Michigan Primaries
Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.
-FDR, 1938

Roosevelt may sound a tad too idealistic but in theory that is the way a democracy is supposed to work.

Tomorrow is the Michigan primaries. I did some reading on the candidates in my area and there isn't much choice. Besides Governor, every position has only one Democrat running so I wouldn't have anyone to choose from. I could vote on the Republican candidates and try to get the more dangerously right wing ones off of the final ballot, but that would mean I would have to stomach reading about them and choosing the lesser evil. Of course, I wouldn't be much better off on the Democratic side anyway. As it is we have three Democrats running for governor and I don't like any of them.
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody, rather than for somebody
-Franklin P. Adams, Nods and Becks (via Camp's Unfamiliar Quotations)

Now I need to find a description of the Bills on tomorrow's ballot.

This morning I went to the Uroligist and took permanent measures. I made the appointment for the Vasectomy a month ago and I have been partially dreading it since. I wasn't worried about wether or not I should do it or anything like that. I was nervous about the procedure itself. I've had a hernia surgery before and a vasectomy is nowhere near as big a deal, but for the hernia I was asleep. For the vasectomy I would be awake and although I knew the doctor would do a good job and make sure I don't feel pain, it didn't seem right. It's a sensitive place to have someone working on and even if I don't feel it, it's someplace I would naturally want to keep knives away from.

It wasn't that bad. It was weird during the procedure but much like getting a tooth pulled out at a dentist, the worst part was hearing the sounds and knowing what is being done. I was going to describe the procedure in more detail, but I decided to spare my readers that. Let me just say that there was no pain just an uncomfortable knowledge of the procedure.

Now, the local anasthetic has worn off and I'm only slightly sore. The doctor gave a prescription for some pain killer, but I don't think I will need it. (Hopefully, I didn't just jinx myself.) The worst part this afternoon hasn't been recovering from the surgery, but a sinus headache from hell. When we got home from the doctor, I took some Ibuprofen and laid down for a few hours. The doctor had recommended I do so for the surgery, but I was doing it hoping to get rid of the headache. I didn't.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

Two Words
(Via Double N)

A mental exercise: using only two words, describe the following:
Your home: for sale
Your car: has character
Your job: bored now
Your S.O: too cute
Your Family: far away :)
Your Friends: good company
The Internet: electric portal
Television: much Buffy
Books: must read
Today: fun game

Friday, August 02, 2002

This one's truly amazing:

"To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

And the anagram:

"In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten."

There Is No Cheese
I really should quit letting work get to me so much. After all, as long as I do the work given, why should I stress out about things that are out of my control? In the grander scheme of things, is it really important?

I once worked at Denny's waiting tables. A local church had a soup kitchen and one night there was this homeless guy that came in for coffee. He had the traditional beard and ratty brown coat and ordered a coffee which I kept refilling for him for hours. It ws the midnight shift and eventually he was one of the only customers in the restaurant. If my manager had been there, he'd have kicked him out, but it was a slow night so it was just me and the cook. I sat down and talked to the guy for a while. It must have been a couple hours. He told me a lot about his life. He told me about how wonderful it was to sleep in bushes under the night sky. He told me about the magic he felt was all around and that most people never noticed. They never stopped to look. That morning when my shift ended I walked away with the realization that this guy was truly happy. He had no job, ratty old clothes and very little money but he was happy. The man was not Buddhist, but he seemed to be in touch with his Buddha-nature. He was enjoying his life no matter where it took him.

I keep thinking that someone should write one of those self help/business books from a Buddhist perspective. Instead of "Who Moved My Cheese?", they could title it "There is No Cheese."

Thursday, August 01, 2002

My manager asked to speak to me the afternoon. I gues people have noticed I've been more irritable here lately and she knows that I am looking to transfer. She asked if something was bothering me, so I told her. It feels good to get things off my chest. I should do it more often.