Monthly Archives: December 2010

Post #200

This will be my last post for the year, oddly enough, it will also be my 200th post on this blog. I was going to make this post an end of year montage of various subjects I have talked about, but about 10% of the way through writing it, I was bored to tears. So then I start writing post about my expectations for the coming year again, about 10% in, I said to my self, fuck this, no one wants to read this shit. So I put it aside and went to catch up on the various blogs I read. I found there had been a multi blog discussion about how the commercially developed RPG products were not that good, especially back in the golden age and this probably stunted how the hobby grew up. A lot of the focus was on the creativity of the modules.

I think over all they are probably right. Many of the old dungeons were not all that good if you tried to read through them, or god forbid, if you tried to run them as written. I think what they missed here is, no one ran them as written. Do an experiment, go to Dragonsfoot forum and start a thread entitled “Tell me your stories about playing in The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief (G1)” and see what comes out. What you will get a 50 or 60 stories, all of them different, even stories about the same room, will be wildly different. The modules were run by different GM’s in different levels of skill, with different players and different PC’s with different equipment. What you will realize when reading the thread is the creativity came while the module was being played. The module was just a bare bones outline of an adventure, it was the GM and the players that filled out the details and brought it to life. We don’t remember the room because there was a snake with 8 hit points in it, we remember it because this god damned fucking snake was under the old bed and when Evro walked by it, the snake bit him and the poison almost killed him. See the difference there.

The other accusation aimed at the hobby is it is too reliant on Tolkien as source material. On the surface, this is probably true as well, but again, it misses deeper issue. Players and GM’s make this stuff their own. Again, my experience in GreyHawk would be wildly different from another player who didn’t earn his RPG cred in Billings Montana in the early 80′s. I think they are also missing the contributions of other authors to the hobby, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Vance, all left their mark on D&D. Not to mention all the various mythology, especially Greek and Norse which influenced us. You could probably add more to that list.

Lastly, I’d like to point out what seems really obvious to me. What these other bloggers seem to be missing is the shared experience. Shared experience is an important element in human community building. For instance, people who have been in the Army can go to a VFW anywhere in the country and feel at home. We can do this because we have similar life experiences. We all went to Basic Training, we all took craps in open stalls were another guy was farting 2 feet away, we all ate in chow halls and choked down over cooked grits and under cooked bacon, to name just a few things. This stuff is unpleasant, but it does form a shared experience that makes for a community bond that transcends generations.

While D&D does not provide the shared experience of ultimate male bonding that is open bay crappers, it does provide us with something similar. Going back to my idea of starting a Dragonsfoot thread about telling G1 stories, if you did this you would discover players bonding over the experience in the same way two old soldiers would bond over visiting the same bar in Mannheim Germany 30 years apart, these are the things that bind us together. Next week I am starting act two of my campaign. Act two is going to be the “Against the Giants” series, which includes the fore mentioned G1. These modules fit nicely into the over all plot of the campaign, but more importantly it passes the shared experience to my nephew, whom I hope one day will go to a game convention or a gamer forum and talking to others, realize he has a link to these people that transcends time and geography.

Happy New year everyone, drink, fuck and be merry, because on Monday we have to go back to work. Commenter of the Year

Here at the labs we took a formal poll on who of our multitudes of readers should be anointed Commenter of the year. After several rounds of voting, it came down to PezWitch and Chad. In the final tally PezWitch got 4,232 votes and Chad got 1. I got suspicious for two reasons, first the interns were all sprawled on the floor more lethargic than usual and second, there were only suppose to be 5 votes. I immediately investigated the situation and found someone had rigged the polling machine to dispense cat nip when a vote for PezWitch was made. I disqualified PezWitch and so the runner up, Chad, gets the award.

Seriously though, Chad is a very old friend, who writes his own Blog The Kuru Lounge, which I visit a couple times a week, but have never posted a single comment, something I feel a bit guilty about. I enjoy Chad’s posts, he is funny and often insightful.  One of the things I like most, is we disagree on many issues, we can have a heated political debate, then go have a beer and talk about the brilliance that is Heinlein. Thank you Chad for participating in my little endeavor here.

Merry Christmas Everyone !

It is a bit of a tradition with PezWitch and myself to drive around town and looks at lights on Christmas Eve. Frankly, the pickings have been pretty slim in this area since 2002, when most of the troops deployed. It is rather difficult for this area to get into the Christmas spirit these last several years. So, Pezwitch and I decided to go do the Christmas Fredricksburg to Marble Falls Christmas light run. Unfortunately the Marble Falls display was shut down when we got there, so we only got pictures of Fredricksburg and Johnson City.

The day started out a bit gloomy as it drizzled most of the way there.

By the time we got there, it had stopped raining. This is the Fredrickburg Christmas Pyramid.

This is Frdricksburg’s Christmas tree in their town center. Unfortunately we did get here a bit early, so it was still light outside.

The obligatory Thulhu picture. I am not sure, but I believe Thulhu has become PezWitch’s child substitute.

Yours truly. I was uncomfortable here, I swear the Gazebo was watching me. If only I had I brought my trusty battle axe.

This is the Johnson City Court house.

This and the next picture were taken at the Johnson City electric company.

This was PezWitch’s favorite part of the trip.

New Facebook Profile

The new look for Facebook has arrived at my profile. I have cleverly used the new look to customize my profile page.

For those not in the know, the picture I assembled there is of the Knights of the Dinner Table. A comicbook published by Kenzer and Company, about a dysfunctional group of gamers. Anybody who has ever played D&D for any length of time will recognize the archetypes here.

There are a lot of people doing interesting things with the new Facebook profiles. To see some examples, have a look here,

It is fairly easy to accomplish. Each of the pictures you want to appear in your header must have a width of 97 pixels and a height of 68 pixels. Once you upload them, tag yourself in each of the pictures. Facebook displays pictures you are tagged in from the latest picture you were tagged in to the oldest, so to get them in the proper order, tag the picture you to appear on the right first and then tag the next pictures as you move to the left. In my case I tagged the picture of Brian first (the big guy with red hair), then I tagged Sara and Bob, then I tagged Bob and B.A..

FCC New Rules

Yesterday the FCC released its new rules regulating companies who provide various Internet access services. The good guys have lost this battle and Net Neutrality is or soon will be a thing of the past. I am not going to get too overly wrapped up about this, but I do think it is an important turning point in the history of the Internet and the landscape is going to dramatically change over the next few years.

Edit: For simple and clear explanation of what Net Neutrality means go here;

A bad day for bigots everywhere

Today the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which keeps gay military personal from serving openly has went down in flames. This another win for the good guys. I look forward to seeing gay marriage becoming legal in the next few years so we can start openly ridiculing homophobes the same way we ridicule racists today.

Tron: Jeremy

Okay after brooding for a couple of hours over our crappy politicians, I needed something funny, something to make me laugh. This did it for me. I want to go see Tron: Jeremy. Don’t worry, the video is safe for work.
Tron: Jeremy – Watch more Funny Videos

Tax cuts and people who love them

The legislation extending the Bush era tax cut has been passed by both the House and Senate, and is headed to the Presidents desk. The Republicans got everything they wanted and more. They got tax cuts for the wealthiest .5%, as a white creamy topping on the pie, they get to de-fund Social Security, linking it forever to the deficit and all they had to do was vote for an unemployment extension they were going to vote for anyway. This is a very bad day for America. This hope and change thing does not seem to be working very well.

24 Hour Society

I am regurgitating (maybe that is a bad word) this from Facebook, because I think it is an interesting subject

On Facebook my friend Carolyn wrote a nice note about how she occasionally gets caught up in the cycle of doing just one more thing before going to bed and she has to eventually has to force herself to stop and say, “my desire to be in bed at that time is OK.  Not only am I allowed to go to bed.  That’s where I am supposed to be.  Tomorrow is another day.”. I think Carolyn makes a profound observation here, I responded with the following.

More and more our society is becoming a 24 hour society. It use to be is you were awake at 3AM, the only other people in the world who were awake lived in India, the TV and radio stations went off the air and on Sunday, EVERYTHING was closed. Today none of that is true, I can do practically anything at 3AM almost as well as 3PM, virtually all TV channels are 24 hour and nothing shuts down on Sunday, heck Walmart even opens on Christmas day now. The problem with all this is we all have this nagging feeling we are missing something.

On top of that, I’d like to add, I don’t think this is a good thing. Perhaps I am just a bit nostalgic, as men my age tend to be. It seems to me perhaps Walmart should not be open on Christmas day, maybe everything should close down on Sundays and yes maybe the TV channels should call it quits at midnight. Let everyone take some time to sleep, spend time with friends and family, or read a book. I am aware, I can do all that stuff now, I can refuse to go to the mall on Sunday, I can turn off the TV whenever I want and I can set my computer aside and pick up a book. The problem is all these things are designed to be distractions and the people who do the designing are really good at their jobs and these things distract us. Maybe we need to slow down a bit and say to ourselves, its okay to go to bed.

Birds, lots and lots of birds

I pulled into the lot to hit Jack-In-The-Box for breakfast yesterday morning and almost drove through amass of birds sleeping in the parking lot. I slammed on the breaks because I am nice guy and didn’t want to disturb them. So I drove around the other side and snapped this picture.