Thursday, December 31, 2009

Google Blogger Suggestions, Wherefore Art Thou?

I seem to be unable to find where I can make suggestions to Blogger concerning functionality.

My beef is thus—I have comment moderation turned on. This means that when you place a comment on my blog, I have to say, "yeah, that's okay to say on my blog," before it is visible to the general public.

On the page where I read and approve or decline comments it only lists the comments. It does not tell me what post to which the comment is linked. So, a lot of the time, the meaning of the comment is lost, and occasionally it's difficult to tell if it is SPAM or not.

By default the only way to find what post a comment is linked to, is to go back and see if you can find the comment. The only way I've found around this, is to enable comment notification e-mails. The e-mail that tells me a comment has been posted, tells me what post the comment is linked to; what I can't seem to fathom is why that is not the case on the comment moderation page.

I've wanted to tell Google about this for a few months now, but every time I try to find the place to give feedback, I find it elusive as a snipe.

Can someone enlighten me?

Need Help Making A Resolutiuon?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Generally I don't like the stuff; but I apparently do Like Cinnamon Buns, Cinnamon Bears, and Cinnamon Bear Flavored Salt Water Taffy.

—Oh and those cinnamon roasted almonds.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Unexplained Juxtapostion

I don't understand this phenomenon exactly, but It came to my attention again today, so I thought I'd see if people had any insight.

My job is Desktop Support. I answer the call when someone is having a problem with their computer. I help my co-workers when they are having trouble with their computers—regardless of the issue. I've been doing this type of work for about seven years. There are two categories of people I help. People I like to help, and People I don't like to help.

This has been focused into higher contrast due to the nature of my current position. For the past two years I have been off the phone. I am in an office environment, and so I have a lot of repeat customers. Some of them I enjoy helping and some of them I do not, and I can't quite put my finger on the difference.

I thought it might be that some of them actually try to help themselves, and try to learn and grow in their computer prowess. I thought that they were the people I didn't mind helping and those that acted as though they were completely helpless were the people I couldn't stand to help; but then I realized there are a handful of people that are completely helpless that I don't mind helping at all.

I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm just judging individuals based on their own apparent merits. Does this make me a judgmental person? I treat them all equally. I help them all. I'm friendly. But I find that with some people, when I get an e-mail indicating they have an issue, or they walk over to ask me a question—I groan a little inside.

Monday, December 28, 2009

More Role Playing With a Three Year Old

When I was putting her to bed the other night, she asked for a story.

This is not unusual. She Desperately wants to delay bedtime. I will only read her a book at bedtime if she's been fast and gotten ready on time. If it's past bedtime due to dawdling, I tell her that we'll have to read a book at another time.

Well she was actually a good fifteen minutes early, so a story was definitely in order. I started to tease her by making up a story (she doesn't always like that for some reason)—"Once upon a time..."

But she interrupted me, and surprised me by saying, "Nooo, a Story with Dice!"

I grabbed the top die in her giant tube of Plush Dice (a d10) and handed it to her.

She was wearing her new Buzz Light-year Footie Jammies and so I told a Buzz Light-year story wherein Buzz was attempting to escape from the neighbors house and trying to get home. Unlike previous foray's into the wonderful world of Dice Story, she was a little lack luster in creativity. I'm wondering if that is due to the fact that I was using a character she knows from a movie. Though she generally gets very creative with her "mini-figs" most of which are from movies she knows; so, I don't know what it was—I think that mostly she wanted a reason to toss a die around (That's My Girl!) and read to me the numbers (because she recognizes the numbers now).

I was roughly using Savage Worlds rules (4 as a Target Number) and she was rolling very, very well.

Dicey Christmas

New Orange and Green Dice For My Wife.

My Second Daughter's First Dice—
As you can see she takes her gaming very seriously. As you cannot see (Because My Timing is Bad) She gets Absolute Joy from throwing the dice.

How Deep?—Two Hundred Feet! That's Like a 20 Storey Building!!

===For Those Not In My Gaming Group===
===Possible Zombie Run Spoilers Ahead===

Zombie Run is Still going on, and we actually had a great game the day after Christmas. I expected no one (except my wife of course) and I got four players, and it was good group.

I worry about Brandon running the game off the rails. Mostly because I like the prepared material that is laid out in the Zombie Run Book; but also because of the ramifications of running the game off the rails. I could see the plan that Brandon was formulating—and frankly, If I let him take it that way, I could sense a Total Party Kill. I don't really want that.

I always think of a better way to railroad the party when it's too late. In game, I handled it clumsily. After the fact I realized that the answer was right in front of me and I missed it. They mentioned the library project that the city was working on, I could have shoehorned that in a little better. Oh Well. Hindsight I guess.

What I did for this session was an elaborate map exploration activity. The Zombie Run book has a lot of maps in it. but they aren't really suitable for printing to scale. So in the past I have printed the maps on a large format printer. This time I wanted to do something a little different. I didn't want to reveal the map all at once. So I printed it in pieces and as they explored the map I stuck them to the table using sticky-tack. I was meticulous in the manner in which I placed the pieces as well. If a hallway turned a corner, I didn't place the hallway down all at once. I had separate pieces for what was visible at the time. It was a little time consuming, but I think most of the players enjoyed it.

I admit to not ending the evening at 11 like I normally would do. Although there was some fun troubleshooting, decision making (they weren't really sure they wanted to go down that massive elevator shaft they discovered on the first floor—it was awfully deep), and exploration—there had not been an encounter. Just when I thought that they would skip the barracks, they barreled in. I admit that I botched the storytelling at this point as well because I forgot to wake the Zombies up when I was supposed to.

My wife cracks me up every time we have an encounter. I think she remembers the beginning of the Adventure vividly—back before any of them had decent weapons or skills to use such weapons. At this point, the only way I'm going to cause a character death with these Zombie is if I overwhelm them with numbers. When the encounter started, my wife desperately wanted to undo the opening of the door she opened—but when it got down to brass tacks she was the last one to jump in the hummer, she just had to run back and shoot a couple more before retreating to relative safety.

I should probably read the rulebook through again. There were some rules questions, and I just didn't want to take the time to check last night. Brandon was correct about holding action into the next round—but I can't find anything in the book that says one mini per square when using a grid.

I remembered that when we were playing the mall I certainly had multiple zombies in a square, I had decided that four would fit. Then in the previous session when I had zombies trying to beat down a door to reach a Spy (a spy our resilient survivors were trying to extract from enemy territory) I wasn't thinking about it and I had one zombie per square; after the fact when I was reflecting upon the session I realized that the zombies were unable to beat down the door as a result of one zombie per square. So I was going to move zombies in a manner that placed more than one zombie in a square and Brandon made up a rule (or rather—probably remembered a rule from some other game) about one fig per square. I relented—but I think I should have played the Game Master card in this case.

They still haven't explored the entire facility—so next session will pick up where we left off. I'm going to print a map of what they have explored thus far and then glue explored rooms to the map.

What I learned:

I need to instill into the players a sense of trust in me (as far as my rules knowledge goes) so that when a rule question arises, I can just make a ruling and we can go on. Even if I'm wrong, if we can avoid Rules Discussions and just continue with a ruling and keep things going, that would be the Ideal way to play in my mind.

One more thing. I brought up the fact that we will be playing Deadlands Reloaded after Zombie Run has come to an end. Brandon plans to buy Deadlands Reloaded. I asked him to not read the Marshall's (Game Master's) Section and he pretty much refused, and plans to read it. He says he can play like he hasn't read it—but honestly, the more I think about this, the more it bothers me. I really don't want him to read that section. I know he has Game Mastering in his blood, but I really want the secrets to be secrets. The Marshall's Section in Deadlands Reloaded is more than just Mechanics like in other Games and Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition. It's probably 95% Setting Information. There are things about the world of Deadlands that Most folks don't know, and I really don't want players knowing that information.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 
—Luke 2: 1–20

And it came to pass that in this year there was one Samuel, a Lamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people.

And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name. And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day. Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born. And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you. 
And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven. And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life. And behold, thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you; yea, he hath said unto me: Cry unto this people, repent and prepare the way of the Lord. 
And now, because I am a Lamanite, and have spoken unto you the words which the Lord hath commanded me, and because it was hard against you, ye are angry with me and do seek to destroy me, and have cast me out from among you. And ye shall hear my words, for, for this intent have I come up upon the walls of this city, that ye might hear and know of the judgments of God which do await you because of your iniquities, and also that ye might know the conditions of repentance; And also that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name. And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits. 
—Helaman 13:2, 14:2–13

And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people. But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite. And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain. And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.
Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet. Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful. And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers. 
And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying: Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son—of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.
And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came. And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand. And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth. For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.
And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets. And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word. 
—3 Nephi 1:4–21
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 
—Matthew 2:1–12

Monday, December 14, 2009

Engineer Graffiti

This appeared on the wall of a stall where I work.

Enhanced to show detail.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Natalie Portman will Star in and Produce: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Podcasts I Listen To—As Requested

For a long time the only "Podcast" I listened to, was Coast to Coast AM. Which really isn't a Podcast, since it is a syndicated Radio program, and to download the "Podcast" requires a subscription.

I really got into listening to Podcasts because of P. On an online Social Network—not Facebook (I'm still resisting Facebook)—I reconnected with P, someone I knew in High School. Funny thing, in High School I wouldn't Necessarily say that P and I were friends, we knew each other and had some classes together, but that was it. I find it somewhat odd that we weren't better friends back then, we were and continue to enjoy a lot of the same interests...

That observation, in and of itself, is another post entirely.

P and I had a nice casual conversation about Tabletop Role Playing Games, and he told me that he satiates the lack of opportunity to play more often, by listening to podcasts about gaming and recommended one called: Fear the Boot.

The funny thing about all this, is the reason I listen to so many podcasts. It can be summed up in two things. Savage Worlds and Board Games.

In one of the Earlier Shows of Fear the Boot, one of the Hosts was very enthusiastic about a Role Playing Game called Savage Worlds. His Enthusiasm transferred to me, and now I run a Game twice a month.

When I was getting into Savage World, I wanted to find out everything I could about the System and its associated settings. I found a Podcast called: The Game's the Thing. (The Website Sucks, and I have a Love Hate Relationship with the Podcast because of the hosts)

As much as Ron and Veronica annoy me, they have the best information about Savage Worlds so I listen to The Game's the Thing.

It was downhill from there. Fear the Boot shortly after I started listening joined a network of Podcasts about gaming called Pulp Gamer. (Pulp, as in the stuff that becomes Cardboard and Paper...the stuff Board Games are printed on)

Shortly after I caught up on the shows for Fear the Boot—The Game's the Thing also joined the Pulp Gamer Media Network.

I noticed that a lot of shows on the Pulp Gamer Network talked extensively about Board Games, and since we play a lot of Board Games (that is to say non-traditional board games—i.e. mostly not published by Hasbro and Subsidiaries) at our house and I like hearing about the New Shiny in the world of board games I started trying out the different Podcasts at the network.

I should mention that I have a little thing inside me, that makes me want to devour things in their entirety. I could not just listen to these podcasts in their current state as I would a live broadcast show. Since the Libraries of the Show go back to the beginning (for the most part) I have this thing inside me that compels me to start at the beginning.

I now listen to the Following parts of the Pulp Gamer Network:

Fear the Boot—Advice on Playing and Running Role Playing Games

The Game's the Thing—Information about Board and Role Playing Games particularly Savage Worlds

Pulp Gamer out of Character—Members of the Pulp Gamer Network talk about various game related topics.

The Game Kennel—Brief overviews about different Games.

Family Night—Like the Game Kennel, but geared toward Family Games.

Game On! With Cody and John—Reviews of Games and some Gaming News (Extremely Professional From The Beginning—most podcasts are a little rough in the first episodes as they figure out who they are—The Website is also Very Professional)

Pulp Gamer Inside Track—Interviews with people in the Game Industry

Pulp Gamer Special Presentations—I think this is stuff they did that doesn't fit into any of the other podcasts.

The D6 Generation—Gaming News, Detailed...Very Detailed Reviews of Games—Geared Particularly toward Tabletop War Gaming (a type of gaming I'm not really in to, but I find I have to keep listening because they increasingly do cover other topics) If you try this one out, the show starts with a parody of the McGlaughlin Group that can be a little jarring the first time you hear it, in fact I turned it off the first time I listened to it, because there was no way I was going to listen to that for 3 hours (also I has Scouts in the Car) But it's generally only about five minutes—and has become one of my favorite segments of the show.

They're pretty much all about gaming. I'm caught up on all of them from the beginning, except The D6 Generation—it's a three to four hour show so it's taking me much longer to catch up than the others did. I'm on episode thirty-eight of forty-five.

Also, Ron and Veronica have a new podcast, and as much as they annoy me, and as much as I think the theme song is pretty lame—I'm going to listen to every episode, because it is exclusively about Savage Worlds. Smiling Jack's Bar and Grill.

I don't get why the hosts that annoy me the most are the ones that get all the interviews with the Savage Worlds people, and talk the most about Savage Worlds, and get all the good scoops on Savage Worlds. As much as they annoy me, they have the content that is most interesting to me.

I also listen to the Dungeons and Dragons podcast when they put out series of shows that are recordings of Dungeons and Dragons sessions; Dungeon Mastered by Chris Perkins from Research and Development at Wizards of the Coast, and played by Mike and Jerry of Penny Arcade (a Webcomic), Scott Kurtz of PVP (another Webcomic), and now Wil Wheaton famous geek. —This Podcast contains some strong Language, it's not for everyone, I just started listening because I was curious about 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

Speaking of Wil Wheaton, I recently started listening to Memories of the Futurecast. I don't recall how I found it, but here's the skinny. Wil Wheaton played Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek the Next Generation. He recently wrote a book, Memories of the Future, about his memories of being on the cast. He does some readings from the book in Memories of the Futurecast—really interesting if you were a fan of the show. —Again, there's some language in this one. He does some other podcasts as well, but I haven't listened yet.

I've wanted to start listening to some other Podcasts, but I have to catch up to the ones I'm listening to currently first.

What Podcasts do You listen to?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Supers Companion

The Savage Worlds Supers Companion Should Be Available in print April 2010. I'll be putting money aside for this.

Expanding the Possibilities of Necessary Evil, or trying to run your own Supers Campaign with Savage Worlds.

Google Wave Invitations

I have some now.

Brandon, I sent you one. It can take a couple of days.

What a Commute

Generally I take the Bus.

Today, I was more than happy to take the bus. With the Snow accumulating like that, and the roads generally not clean, I was glad that I didn't have to drive.

I bundled up. I walked to the Bus Stop.

When the podcast I was listening to ended, it signaled that the Bus was indeed late—not surprising considering the weather and traffic situation. However I was getting cold, and I could not see a bus approaching that was perhaps the one I take. So I went back to the corner and crossed in two directions and looked up the road—I had a better view from this location. I thought I saw my bus coming, and I could definitely see the bus for my alternate route coming. I walked back to the stop (that's crossing the street in two directions again)—but what I thought was my bus, was a School Bus. So I crossed the street (in two directions) again and waited at the other stop.

Making a left hand turn was taking so long that I crossed the street six times and still made the alternate bus.

After boarding the alternate route, I continued to watch in the other direction, and I never did see the Bus that I take.

Two and a half hours after I left the house, I finally made it to the light rail station. The wait there was only about eight minutes, but when the train arrived it was only two cars and it was packed. I've never seen it that packed. Then we picked up more and more people. Then I realized that I was on the wrong route and had to hop off and wait for the next train. The snow was wreaking havoc with one of the doors on the train, it would close—but not enough to let the driver leave. Which had caused a delay at three stations, so when I got off to catch the right route, it was literally right behind us.

So three hours and fifteen minutes after I left the house, I walked in the doors at my place of employment. I'm still glad that I didn't have to drive.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Perhaps the Trick is to Not Expect Anyone to Come??

I started running Savage Worlds when my wife went out of town. Due to reconnecting with P and some online conversations about Gaming. I had started listening to a Gaming Podcast, and one of the Hosts had been raving about Savage Worlds. My interest was piqued enough to pick the book up, and I had been dying to play. I decided that my wife being out of town was the perfect way to get some people to come over and give it a shot.

Since Savage Worlds is a Generic system, I still had to decide what kind of game to run. I had decided to run a Zombie Survival game and the Tuesday before the Scheduled game, Pinnacle Re-released the adventure module Zombie Run updated for the current revision of the Savage Worlds Rule Set. I thought that it would be easier to run an established story rather than come up with something of my own, since I had never run a game before. Add to that the fact that it was on sale I purchased it.

Mostly I had in mind more of a One Shot adventure. Little did I know, Zombie run was not a One Shot. So here I am, seven months later still running the campaign adventure. Things seem to have fallen off a little as of late, and if there's one thing I know, it's that the Holiday season can kill a campaign.

So, this weeks game was supposed to take place next week—I forgot that we had a Birthday Party to attend next week. So in a desperate bid of last minuteness I updated the invitation to indicate that everyone was invited this weekend to play.

I think one of the things that has kept the campaign alive, is the fact that I've invited so many people to play. The initial invite that I sent out was for seven people. Three Attended. At this point there are eighteen people that are invited. I've never had more than five attend a session. Session to session it's different people. I explain what happened last time, and we always assume everyone is there—but only the people that make the session are kept track of in any given situation.

The last two sessions took place despite the fact that one session was the week of Thanksgiving, and the other session was scheduled a week earlier than normal at short notice.

Maybe the trick is to just not expect anyone to show up. . .

OK probably not (if you don't expect anything out of people, they will live up to your expectations), but that's how the last two sessions have played out for me. I want to remain consistent and not let this thing die on the vine so even though I don't really expect people to come—I plan to run a session. I have one more session that has, I-don't-expect-anyone-to-show-up status. It falls on the day after Christmas. For those of you that are players. It promises to be a good one. If you thought the maps that we've played on before were great. You haven't had an experience like the one I have planned. It is going to be Legen....wait for it....DARY!

So this weeks session went well. We had some scavenging, and zombies did indeed show up. Then there was the extraction of a spy—and plenty of Zombies for flavor. I think that as far as mechanics go, this session was the smoothest. Now I just need to start describing things a little better—spin a yarn as they say.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Transiberian Orchestra DLC

DLC is Downloadable Content for those not in the know.

I propose that there needs to be a Transiberian Orchestra Guitar Hero, or Rock Band, or Band Hero; or if they aren't willing to make a fully Christmas themed game, just offer it up as downloadable content. I was listening to some Transiberian Orchestra last night, and thought again about how easy it would be to get me to spend money on such a thing.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

You Will Do As I Command

Because I'm Very Persuasive—the fortune cookie told me so.

I hate fortune cookies that don't have a fortune. They just aren't as fun. You Will believe me, the cookie told me so.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Okay, I've had some time to play with Wave.

I think the Industry Buzzwords are confusing what the actual product does; add to that the lingo that Google has labeled the parts of Wave with and it's no wonder that I had no idea what it was. I don't think it's very intuitive as a result.

That is, until you start a Wave with someone else. Then it all starts to make sense.

What it boils down to is a really advanced chat room.

It feels very old school because you see everyone involved typing in real time (soon to be a feature that can be turned off—so you can finish a thought and then have it available). But then you realize that each of those little chat boxes can be edited by anyone invited, that the text has rudimentary formatting, that you can link sub comments, and that members of the Wave can have a private side chat—and it doesn't seem very old school anymore.

On top of all that there, are all kinds of Gadgets that you can use, and people are writing new gadgets all the time. You can bring in a Google map and mark off areas and label points of interest. You can add a gadget that allows you to scribble a la MS paint. You can add one of many gaming dice gadgets and generate random numbers. You can add a deck of cards that can be manipulated much like a real deck or two or three...You can upload files that everyone can access. You can Create a Poll. You can integrate your social networking of choice (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, etc.)

It essentially takes the rudimentary and simple concept of a chat, and elevates it to a collaboration tool. I can see it as a very useful and fun tool with which to work.

How Long Will the Batteries Last?

(There may be some small spoilers for Zombie Run)

Savage Worlds Game Night is Falling on all the Holiday Weekends. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.

I read a lot of gaming Blogs and I listen to a number of Gaming Podcasts. One thing I've picked up is that the Holidays are a major destroyer of the regular role playing game. I'm experiencing something different. The Games all around the Holidays are falling apart, but the games that fall on the week of the holiday are working out.

I really enjoy the surprises I get when acting as GM.

This session revolved around the need to shut down the Nuclear Power Plant in Palo Verde. Tiring of keeping track of Allies, I sent the party in by themselves. Storytelling-wise there were others with them. When it came down to putting the figs on the map on the table, it was just the characters.

The control room had two bad guys for every good guy plus one.

My wife is playing a wannabe goth. Her character dresses the part, but her perky meter goes to eleven—and she's always looking for storybook romance.

She did something completely unexpected. She burst into the control room, with the injured engineer on her back, playing the part of confused valley girl. She exploded her persuasion dice and moved the entire room from hostile to helpful and the very people that were there to stop them from shutting down the reactor, ended up fixing the coolant system—leaving the party safe and sound and hidden (save the Perky Goth and Nuclear Engineer).

So the next thing would have been handled better if I was a more experienced GM. There were two planned zombie encounters for the evening's game. The first was just a possibility and the party dodged the zombies when scavenging.

The second was a group of zombies in the radioactive core that would be encountered when they needed to enter the core to repair the coolant system. Except the Perky Goth convinced the Bad Guys to Go into the Core.

I didn't want to just make up what happened in the core, so I started to Roll it out. Playing the part of the Villains and the Zombies. Luckily someone reminded me that I could have the players take on the part of the NPCs for that part of the session. A more experienced GM would have just done that instinctively.

I've heard that advice on the Podcasts and in the Blogs, but I was always a little wary of letting the players control the NPCs. Contextually it worked and was appropriate, I just wish I had come up with it.

Also, Brandon bombed a stealth roll sneaking out. I realized after I told them to roll that I shouldn't have done so, because I wasn't willing to play out the consequences (It was late and time to wrap up the session)—so I let it slide a little and let the Bad Guys hear him, but they didn't see him to pursue him.

So, to summarize what I learned this session.

1) I keep saying this, but it is a constant that never ceases to amaze me. Gamers will solve the problem in amazing ways you never considered, even if the outcome of said action was a small possibility. I knew that they could possibly talk the Bad Guys into Helping rather than hindering, I never expected it to happen—let alone in the manner in which they did so.

2) Lone-wolfing is Bad—if you find yourself in that situation, hand the NPCs over to the players.

3) Only have players roll the dice when you are willing to play out the consequences (Good or Bad). Corollary : if you need things to go a certain way—don't rely on the dice, just tell the story.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Super Mario Brothers Wii

I admit that I am a Mario Fan through and through.

I remember the first time I played Super Mario Brothers. It was a Sunday. We were at my Mother's Uncle's House. My second cousin had the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) hooked up to a small color television in the basement (The Same Color Television Doubled as a monitor for a computer—Commodore 64 or something like that).

I watched a second cousin play through a few levels and I excitedly asked if I could try it out.

With the Atari 2600 as my primary prior experience in console gaming. I walked Forward and right into that first Goomba and died. Then I did it again. I was trying to use up on the directional pad to jump. So there I am on my last life when my cousin finally tells me how to jump. I fared a little better, but not great.

I've been hooked ever since. I probably bugged my parents about getting a Nintendo from that point on.

Dad relented once and rented one from Blockbuster. The new Shiny on the block at the time was Super Mario Brothers 2—and what a glorious game.

We finally got a Nintendo for Christmas, and Super Mario Brothers became a challenge to overcome. It was hard. Very Very Hard.

Playing video games is a very different affair these days. Back then there was no internet. If you were stuck, you were stuck until you figured it out. Cheat codes were passed among friends on pieces of paper and they originated from the one guy that had a subscription to Nintendo Power, or the inside of Cereal Boxes, or as a bonus from watching some cartoon on Saturday morning.

I remember the sheer thrill, when I hear from a friend of a friend about the Konami Code (I didn't know that's what it was called at the time) and how excited I was to take that pencil scrawled ripped piece of paper over to my friend's house to try it on Contra. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A (select—for two players) Start. We passed Contra the first time that day, with the help of 30 extra lives.

Now that I have the Nintendo Wii, I've picked up every Mario Game I can get my hands on: Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2 (US and Japanese Versions), Super Mario Brothers 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario RPG (Shout-out to Natalie for that one), Super Mario Sunshine (Thanks to Nintendo for Backward Gamecube Compatibility), Super Mario Galaxy, Super Paper Mario.

I'm still lacking in the Mario Kart arena, and the Smash Brothers Arena.

So, it should come as no surprise that I picked up New Super Mario Brothers Wii.

New Super Mario Brothers Wii is in spirit just like every side scroll platform Mario game that came before. The last traditional side scroll Mario game that came out was New Super Mario Brothers in 2006, but that was a Nintendo DS game. I don't own a DS, but I borrowed one to play that game because prior to that the last traditional side scroll Mario game was Super Mario World in 1990 on Super Nintendo, a system I never owned. New Super Mario Brothers was FUN—VERY FUN, but playing on that little screen just isn't the same.

Over the years, I've become less of a solitary player—I enjoy the social interaction of gaming, which explains the proliferation of Music Rhythm Games in our home. Even though Super Mario has traditionally been mostly a single player game, it's more fun with friends. We would take turns passing the controller. You can make fun of each other when you fail and you can celebrate wildly skillful playing. 

New Super Mario Brothers adds true multi-player to the Mario equation. Up to Four players can compete or co-operate on screen at once. No longer constrained to passing the controller, or taking turns on screen as Mario and Luigi.

So far, I'm loving this game, it's completely new and yet it's completely familiar. I haven't played much, because I'm really craving the multi-player and haven't had a chance to try that out as of yet. What I have played has been fun in an old school meets new school kind of way. If you thought Firepower was fun—wait until you try Ice Power. If you thought the Tanooki suit and the Cape were great, wait till you try on the Propeller Suit. If you thought the Frog Suit was an Awesome Power up for Water Levels you're gonna love the Penguin in Ice Levels. Also—Yoshi.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Stars Are Right.

The Cthulhu Mythos is an interesting bit of Modern Horror Fiction that was born during the age of Pulp Fiction.

As I understand it, H.P. Lovecraft envisioned a world where we humans amount to nothing. In the Mythos he created a world where Elder Gods once ruled, but are now currently sleeping. Though they sleep, their minds reach out to prepare for their eventual return, they influence people who become cultists. These Cultists prepare the world for their return through horrific rituals. Those that attempt to learn about the Elder Gods and the World they ruled, are faced with the realization that man is nothing; merely ants in the grand scheme of things. This knowledge added to the understanding that the Elder Gods will soon return leads to a loss of sanity. The Elder gods Will Return—when the Stars are Right.

H.P. Lovecraft had close ties with other Pulp Fiction Contemporaries, and they too added to the Mythos—Including Robert E. Howard (Known Best for Conan, Kull, and Solomon Kane)

The Stars are Right is a Card and Tile Game. The Tiles are Laid out in a grid pattern in the center of the table. You then play cards to arrange the star tiles to allow the activation of cards based on patterns of stars found in the grid. The Goal is to arrange the stars in patterns that allow the Summoning of various Cthulhu Mythos monsters each worth different point values. The player that reaches ten points first wins.

I liked this game. The ties to the Chulhu Mythos were very prominent (but not something you need to know to play). Summoning lesser creatures yields lower points, and help in the eventual summoning of the Elder Gods (worth more points) by allowing portions of the Star Patterns to be ignored.

The thing I can see some people not liking about this game, is that it is extremely difficult to plan ahead, because every one is changing the stars. This slows the game down as getting the stars arranged in such a manner as needed does require some thinking.

I want to play this again. Next time, I hope there aren't two screaming kids, and two yapping dogs. Then maybe I'll be able to think clearer and Summon the Great Cthulhu—when The Stars are Right.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Google Wave—Shameless Begging

I've been hearing all about this Google Wave thing.

I still can't seem to wrap my head around what exactly it is, and I want to check it out, but it's currently invitation only.

I figure someone Geeky that Reads My Blog could offer me one of their invites.

To prove exactly how shameless this begging is, I'm applying all my labels to this blog. From what I understand, Google Wave could apply in some way to all of them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Musical Rhythm Games

Musical Rhythm Games are  really popular at our house.

Essentially they are Karaoke games that everyone can play whether they can sing or not. The Guitar and Drums can be tricky, but they level well enough, so even players on the Easy Level can enjoy. When we purchased Guitar Hero 5 in the first month it was available, we became eligible for a free copy of Guitar Hero Van Halen. We also picked up Lego Rock Band and Band Hero.

Guitar Hero 5 and Band Hero are essentially the same game with a different skin/style and different song selections. They are geared specifically for party play. You can hop in and out and change difficulty on the fly, and you can play with any combination of instruments—i.e. if you happen to have four drum sets, you can all play drums, and you can change instruments on the fly as well.

I played We Are the Champions and American Pie last night and it was a blast.

Guitar Hero Van Halen, isn't even out yet. Its release date is about a month from now. I'm not a big Van Halen fan, but If it's free, that's the price for me. I found that I recognized a lot more of the Van Halen Music than I thought I would, and enjoyed most of it. It has one Queen song in it, and I've been a little obsessed with the music of Queen lately—A very talented group. I remembered that in the Movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, that they were always trying to come up with a way to get Eddie Van Halen in the Band—now I understand why. There is some truly challenging stuff in this game due to the Amazing things he did with the real instrument. The Game feels like Guitar Hero III, as far a menus and game play, but updated to handle More Varieties of plastic toy instruments. It's challenging, and frankly I'm surprised at how much I've enjoyed playing it.

Now let's talk Lego Rock Band. When rumors of this game started to spread, a lot of people groaned and a lot of people cheered. Count me as one of those that cheered. The thing about Lego games I like are the Humor and the Family Friendly Nature. There is one problem though. The Wii version is Nerfed. The ability to download songs from the Rock Band Store has been completely removed. This feature was limited in the Xbox and Playstation 3 Versions—but it was limited in a way I found useful. Only songs marked as family friendly are available—which is perfect, I don't really need to be adding songs that are not family friendly. This was a feature I was really looking forward to, because there are a lot of songs in the Rock Band store that I would like to get.

The game is fun. Especially the Challenge levels. The animations going on in the background are amusing enough to distract you form your playing at times. So far the tasks we have completed used the Power of Rock! to Demolish a building, Scare Ghosts from a Mansion, and Fight off a Giant Octopus—amusing stuff indeed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Podcast Irregularity

So there's this podcast that I listen to, and I can't stand either of the hosts. They are a Husband–Wife duo. He is cold and emotionless, she is overly emotional (no, she doesn't cry—she gets a little too excited about things—i.e. ultimate fan-girl) and not in a charming way, in a slightly irritating way.

Yet I keep listening. Sixty-four episodes. Now, add to this that they have launched another podcast, which I intend to Listen to regularly.

What I do like about the podcast is the content. I'm generally very interested in the content and the people they interview—but when it gets to the "just be yourself on the mic" portions of the show, I just have to grit my teeth.

They remind me of those socially uncomfortable friends that you have. You know, the ones that are tolerable, but a little weird on their own. But now they're dating and every time either of them opens their mouth the room is full of awkward.

Now, their podcast has joined a pod-casting network—so now I get to hear them on other pod-casts that I previously enjoyed without them.

Also, in that same suite of pod-casts there is another show that has a show segment where the wives of the hosts give their view of things. I really like that pod-cast, but that segment drives me insane. There is this Guy vs. Girl thing that I've always hated. Men need to be men, women need to be women, and neither is complete without the other, and we need to just accept each other as is and stop it with the whole Men are better or women are better garbage—we each have our roles. What I've noticed is that the people that are always pushing the whole your side needs to stop thinking that my side is inferior attitude, seem to be the ones that think their side is superior and act very immature about the whole thing.

Oh look, a mini rant ended up in my observation of myself listening to a multitude of pod-casts wherein I find the hosts annoying.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Case of the Missing Players

This weeks campaign was supposed to be exciting. I had Six people R.S.V.P.—five of those were planing to attend. A sixth person had given me a maybe, and a seventh generally comes, but never reads his e-mail and as such, never gives an R.S.V.P.. Also, one of the five is a friend of mine from high school that lives out of state now, and was in town for business and family purposes.

I was excited to run a session that featured enough combat to keep every one satisfied.

Right before go time I got a message from the maybe man—he had a wedding reception that he had forgotten about and was obligated to attend. My wife had called the person that never reads his e-mail and he indicated that he would be over in a bit.

A little after go time, my friend that now lives out of state arrived. He was the first—which worked out well, since we had not yet created a character for him. So we took care of that, we talked a little about how the system works—and no one else had shown up. It was getting late—but people have shown up late in the past. I called though, because I like to know what's going on.

Three of the people that indicated that they were going to attend weren't answering their phones. About twenty minutes later my wife got them on the phone and they weren't coming. The person we called, who stated he would be over in a bit—never showed up.

Essentially, I invited my friend from out of state to some Zombie Hunting good times and everyone else that stated they would be there (except my wife) bailed. Which left me with two players—and the bare minimum I will run the game with is three.

We ended up just talking and catching up—which was nice, but I think we both would have liked catching up over the rotting corpses of the undead just as much.

I'm not sure what I learned from this session. 

Five seems to be the R.S.V.P. kiss of death. If five indicate they are coming, only one comes. That's what happened last time. There were two other sessions where five people played, but I think on both occasions only three people had indicated that they would attend.

The next session falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I'm not holding my breath in thinking that enough people will come to play. But, I am hoping that people will need a break from their crazy families and holiday shoppers—thus helping them to choose to blow off steam, by blowing up Zombies.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Google—It's a Mystery

I'm not sure why Google created this, but you should know it's out there.


You get what the person before you searched for.

I searched for "Gary Gygax" (The Late creator of Dungeons & Dragons) and got the Results for "if I eat a pinecone, will my farts smell like christmas?"

My observation is that it's easy enough to get inappropriate results from an innocent search—why invent a tool that increases the likelihood of such an occurrence?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chalk Dust Season

Does anyone else go through this?

Approximately twice a year—as the seasons change—I find myself having a difficult time breathing.

It's not that I'm not getting enough oxygen, it just feels and smells like the air around me is full of chalk dust.

It's happening to me right now. It's as if someone grabbed two chalk board erasers and banged them together and created a cloud of chalk dust around me. That's the only way I know to describe it.This happens on and off for a few weeks, and then it's back to breathing as normal.

Apparently Winter is Closing in.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Gaming—Not Terribly Spooky

So, after six weeks we finally played Savage Worlds again. Last Session was derailed when only two people showed up. The session before that was set aside for Beatles Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5.

This was a very Role Play session. The party was still in Flagstaff. Though P wasn't there I contended that his character had a Parrish and that he had acquired a bus for church purposes. One player, who hasn't been there for every session has a character that happens to be a surgeon (of the plastic variety)—this gave me an excuse to run the hospital portion of the story—which made it easier to get the group out of Flagstaff. Though they almost didn't take it (interestingly enough).

This was a difficult session for me to run—sort of. This campaign (as I've mentioned ad nauseam) is my first ride in the Game Master seat. I've found myself at times not confident in my own storytelling skills, and shaky in my ability to act as referee and make rulings with my limited understanding of the rules. Because, I know myself, I had a feeling this is how things would go. Which is why at the outset of this game, I didn't just start making a story up and allow my players to interact with it. This is why I'm running Zombie Run, rather than my own Zombie Scenario.

The benefit of running a scripted scenario, is that you don't have to take the time to create the world and characters and story—it's all there for you. Except when it isn't. This particular branch of the story was rather more sandboxy than previous story arcs. Since I'm not the story's creator—it's not a part of me.

Advice given to budding authors is to write what you know. If you write what you know, then when a new situation presents itself you instinctively know what is going to happen, because the places, characters, and situations are all a part of you.

The same goes for Storytelling through Game Mastering, if it's something you created—then it's going to be a part of you, and when new situations arise (as they always will—players will surprise you every time) you theoretically will know how to react.

So, this session presented me with the challenge of getting the characters to interact with a particular character. I tried to get them to go there last session—but there was no rhyme or reason to do so. This session however, there was a way to do so. Though I think, if this had been a story of my own creation I would have been more flexible last session and changed things to make it work differently. Sometimes when I'm in the thick of it—I forget to be flexible and forget I can change things to suit me.

Also, I find that I'm not descriptive enough. I need to use a palate of words to create mental visuals for my players, but I find that more often than I should, I just let the dice tell the story, which isn't that exciting.

Holiday Season is upon us, so there's probably going to have to be some schedule adjustment following the every two weeks rule lands a game on the week of Thanksgiving and the Week of Christmas. I'm willing to play those weeks, but understand if things just don't work out—Halloween almost fell through (humorous side note, two players were asleep on the couch the entire game—in spite of the Halloween Music playing on the Sound System quite loud at times...So a big thanks to Brandon and Tiffany for coming, it would have been Lame without you). I just hope this game doesn't die on the vine as a result—because it's written to end with a Bang!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Curious About The History of an Area

The part of town I work in has some old buildings, and I get curious about them—but haven't really been able to dig up any information. (Some of the Large Pictures will take a while to load—I was using a work camera to take some of them and did not realize it was 8.0 Megapixel)

This building for some reason makes me think of a Speakeasy or Mad Scientist's Lair every time I walk past it.

I wish I had taken a picture before they dug it all up and redid the sidewalk—but there were some sections of old Brick Sidewalks that I used to walk on, on a daily basis.

Behind the building I work in, there is an old brick building that is an old warehouse.

The warehouse section of the building was added on to a much smaller building. In the North most room (Garage?), you can see what used to be the Face of the building.

They let us take a look around inside the other day, as a sort of Haunted Tour.

Apparently there is a room that some of the facilities people refuse to go into—they say the temperature drops dramatically when you walk in there. It was so cold yesterday when we took the tour, that if the temperature did drop, I don't think anyone would have noticed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Juvenile, I Know

Every time I come around the corner and see this it makes me laugh—if it's too small to read click for High Rez.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Uhhh...Does My Ring Tone Really Warrant That Sort of Reaction?

So, Mondays I spend the morning at a different office. Since I'm only there once a week, I don't have a proper cubicle/office. When I first stated going to the location—I would just grab an empty cubicle. Then one day I showed up and all the cubicles were full.

So I went to the office coordinator and was giving her a hard time about not saving me a seat, and she gave me a proper office. It was technically assigned to someone else—someone that had literally used it once. Then they needed that office for another person that was to be on site regularly. I was moved to a corner office to share with someone else.

So I'm sitting here in the office and my Cell Phone Rings—and he Busts up Laughing. I answered the phone and did a little trouble shooting. When I hung up he apologized for laughing, he thought that my phone was some Illicit Website that I had unintentionally opened and was striving to desperately close.

I thought my ring tone was decidedly Jazzy—not Strip Teasey.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not a Complete Bust

Tonight's Zombie Run Game Didn't Happen. All signs were pointing to the biggest session thus far.

I had five people RSVP (Usually I only have Two RSVP and I generally have 3-5 show). Of those five I had two show up (counting my wife). One of them has been out of a job for a while and has an interview coming up, but his art portfolio is not properly geared for the work they want him to do. So, I can understand that—he's cramming. One was sick—so, to that person thank you for not coming. One person was driving home from a trip to their Grandparents. I understand wanting to just go home and relax after a long trip.

So there we were. Me, my wife and one other player. The table leaves were in, the Game Master screen was up—dice a plenty itching to be rolled, Donuts, Brownies, and Ice Cream at the ready. Had there been at least one more player I would have gone ahead and played.

So, my wife stayed home, and I and the one player that did show went to a movie—a movie she didn't want to see—so, as the title says, the night was not a complete bust.

The next session falls on Halloween—so I know it's going to be nigh impossible to get the group together...Maybe. I still intend to run a session—I hope I can get enough people together. I really really want to play on Halloween.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Stuff I See Walking to and From Work

I've taken some pictures (over the past year or so) of things I find interesting on my walk to and from the bus stop. The time has come to share. Behold: The Walk to/from Work Photo Dump.

There is this Greek or Roman style head.

Well—part of a head—over the entrance of an otherwise unassuming building.

I saw this guy pasted onto a wall one morning.

And I spotted this guy from the bus the next morning, so I had to walk over and get a picture.

I've seen several of these painted onto the sidewalk. Someone must have a Vendetta.

There was this little tower of stones on the sidewalk one day.

This appeared overnight.

This appeared overnight some time later in the same spot.

I've seen a so many abandoned Shoes, I started taking pics just so I could post about it.

That Grass is taller than me.

There's this plaque on a bench.

However the bench is missing an important element—this amuses me.

There's this area with Thistles that grow taller than me.

That isn't the tallest one but it's close. I was waiting and waiting to take a picture of the taller one because the flowers hadn't bloomed purple yet, and finally I decided I'd better take a picture before they chop the things down. Then I proceeded with video mode instead of camera. I didn't stop to change the camera mode and take the shot because I didn't want to miss the bus—next morning they had been chopped.

This one grew later, it wasn't tall. It's hard to tell from the picture, but that big leaf in the front is a good 3–4 feet wide. (Incidentally it was chopped the day after I took the picture)

When they finally bloomed I took a picture as well.

This was nowhere near Halloween. It was July.

A "Crop Circle"

And we'll end with a Rainbow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Rubik's Cubes

It all started at a previous job.

We were going through a slump (one that occurred every year). In fact, there were so few calls coming into the call center that they had started sending people home early—I would hold out as long as I could (they would send home volunteers first, and when they ran out of volunteers, they were forced to send people home based on schedule).

So I had this co-worker that decided to learn how to solve a Rubik's Cube. Shortly after he had it down, I decided that if he could do it, I could. No, I didn't figure it out myself, the internet is a wonderful thing.

I can solve a 3x3x3 cube in about two minutes, a 4x4x4 in about ten if I don't forget one of the moves, fifteen to twenty if I have to jog my memory. I'm pretty sure I could solve the 5x5x5 if I ever got my hands on one. The same goes for the puzzle cube based on the Rubik's Cube engineered in recent years by a Greek Engineer that allows for cubes from 5x5x5 to 11x11x11.

When I got tired of borrowing my coworkers cube, I bought my own. Then I got a 4x4x4. The 3x3x3 got lost, and I played with the 4x4x4 so much it was falling apart. Then Walmart started selling cubes in cheaper packaging and at a much better price and I ended up with a new 3x3x3 and 4x4x4. At one point I went to buy a cube at Walgreens since they had an advertised price of $5 combined with buy one get one free—I went to three stores and then asked for a rain-check.

I found that rain-check two years later and they still honored it.

I found an old cube from when I was a kid (you know, the first time these things were popular) and decided to combine my unhealthy obsession with Dice and my enjoyment of Rubik's Original Puzzle. I took all the stickers off and used white electricians tape to make it look like a pipped six sided die. An acquaintance at work borrowed it and he brought it back in pieces—the old plastic had disintegrated around one of the screws and the thing had just fallen apart in his hands. I was upset, but I also had a cube with stickers that were wearing out.

So I rubbed all the color off the stickers, and had myself an all white cube. Then I colored loose leaf paper reinforcements black with a Sharpie and applied 14 of them to the cube. It was much easier than the electrical tape version and looks a lot better as well. At first it seems that it's harder to solve, but once I wrapped my head around it; I realized that unlike a standard cube you only have to solve ten of the twenty pieces—the rest of the pieces are all Identical. All you have to solve is the eight corners and two edges.

My Wife and Kids got me a Disneyland Rubik's Cube when they went to Disneyland. My sister got me an All Spark Cube (i.e. Transformers) for my birthday. I bought a Rubik's Ice Cube recently—it's a 2x2x2 cube made of transparent plastic and has a cool stand that looks like it's made of polar ice.

I have one more—which is what prompted me to write this post. A co-worker came to me yesterday morning and gave me a cube that I think was swag at a recent company event. You must understand that although my job is in computers, I work for the division of my company that is essentially a construction company. One of the companies that we contract with had a "Safety" BBQ and Equipment Rodeo. I didn't attend, because it was held at another location in the middle of the day. This Cube is a promotional tchotchke for Komatsu. It has Bulldozers, Excavators, and Dump Trucks on it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Is "Rocket Science" What It Used to Be?

I overheard a conversation in the break room today. Someone used that old adage, about what we do not being "rocket science."

I was thinking about that. It's my understanding that Rocket Science isn't really "Rocket Science" anymore—because we have it down to a ... well, Science.

Which begs the question. What is today's "Rocket Science?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Everyone Loves Dice

There must be something built into us that makes us like them. I've mentioned before how there's something primal about the thrill of that random number coming up; and it has nothing to do with the Gambling association that dice have. That same excitement is generated whether playing Dungeons and Dragons, Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee, or Craps—money doesn't have to be on the line for the random number generation thrill to well up inside.

I observed this first hand several weeks ago. I was making a stop at our Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS). As I got out of my car I observed a Large car pulling close as possible to the front door, then little old ladies poured out like clowns.

Before I go on, I have to say—that of all the Local Gaming Stores this one is the best. As far as business practices go: they have the best selection of board games, they have a large selection of current title comic books and graphic novels (they've mostly gotten out of the comic-books-as-collectibles business), they carry large selections of miniature war gaming products in a very space efficient manner, they manage to cater to a large number of collectible card games (CCGs), they have a number of computers set up for online gaming, and they have the best selection of role playing games in town. They pretty much do everything right as a business (unlike most of the other game stores I've been to locally). However, the nerd and geek quotient of their customer base is still very high—i.e. the little old ladies seemed very out of place. There is another game store in town that has a narrower gaming focus (read: mostly euro, popular amero, and a sprinkling of old style war games (i.e. cardboard chit units on hexagonal maps)) that also does everything right as a business. Their Nerd and geek quotient seems significantly lower—and the little old ladies would not have seemed out of place to me at that location. [I have nothing to back this paragraph up except my own limited observations]

Needless to say, I was very curious what they were looking for. So I watched from a distance as they scanned the shelves. The employee on duty took great care of them, and found the product they wanted.

I thought that they would be in there to get either Bunco or a Gift for someone. I was wrong, they were looking to get Farkle.

Farkle is one of those games that drives me nuts that they even package and sell it commercially. It's a Dice game that uses standard six sided dice. I got the impression that they were looking for Pocket Farkle because they were shocked by the size of the box (it is ridiculously large for a game that uses six standard six sided dice). The Game Store Employee took the opportunity to introduce them to the dice selection they sell. I observed those women get all excited by the sheer amount of variety available. They perused the dice selection the rest of the time I was there.

I was curious what they would end up with, but I had to go. It was like watching kids in a candy shop. They were still exploring the magical world of dice when I left.

I observed similar behavior from my wife when she bought her first dice.

Everyone should go buy themselves at least one set of gaming dice from their FLGS—even if they don't plan to ever play games, make it a "window" shopping trip in that case, it's just fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It never ceases to amaze me how different it is from one game to the next. Our last session marked the first time in our Zombie Run Campaign when the party has been "off the rails." Because, this Zombie Run Campaign marks the first time that I have been the Game Master I have been grateful for the guidance provided by the Zombie Run campaign guide. I've mentioned before that originally I was going to run Necessary Evil—I will admit to being even more nervous about Running that campaign than I ever was for Zombie Run.

The Night I had slated to be my first session ended up being a weekend that my wife was out of town. That meant that I didn't want to run Necessary Evil per se. In my mind Necessary Evil is a long extended campaign. I can see people playing for a year or two or three, at the rate that I'm running Zombie Run. I already had it in my mind to try and run some sort of one shot game for my first foray in to the world of Game Mastering—so when Zombie Run was released in it's Explorers Edition Compatible version, the week I had planned to run a game I was quite pleased. I purchased it then and there.

In my mind Zombie run was a campaign that would run a few sessions and then we could get on to Necessary Evil. Zombie Run is still running. I have railroaded it up to this point. Because that's exactly the sort of thing that I needed as a first time Game Master. The Adventure is written in such a way that makes running it as a railroad easy to do but not necessary.

I read about another group that was running Zombie Run—and they spent a lot more time in New York. They essentially had different factions in the starting building vying for the support of the party, each with different ideas of how to proceed (i.e. some wanting to get off the island, some wanting to wait for the government to come and help them, some wanting to restart society, etc.) and apparently the first chapter alone went on for many sessions. Well, getting into this I wasn't quite up to that sort of challenge. So I have (for the most part) run a chapter per session.

However the chapter in question that was slated for the last session is written fairly open ended. There are several different things written out in the chapter that the party can do, they have more choices than ever before in this adventure. They seem to have made up their minds about what they want to do—but how to do it? Aye, there's the rub. So I guess we're officially off the rails—and my poor new Game Master Brain is reeling.

I think the session went relatively well. The party avoided the only Big Fight that I anticipated as well as a scavenging fight which I was going to throw at them. I even cheated by re-rolling the dice three times to see if they were to encounter any zombies—and at that point decided to just give the success to them. So it ended up being more of a story telling/role playing session. I fear that may have alienated some at the table—but I hope not. They still got to roll the dice a lot. I like rolling dice, so while I advocate the role play over roll play—I feel there should be a healthy amount of roll—it is a game after all.

The fact that there's a priest (a pistol packing priest—that bluffs quite handily mind you) in this particular group has led to an interesting turn of events. He's indicated that he would like to start a Parrish, which is seen as a good thing by the militaristic "government" in Flagstaff, and since the chaplain went missing on a recent supply raid his request has been granted. I'm quite interested to see how it all plays out. Depending on how things play out the Zombie Run Campaign could be over in just a few sessions.

My Wife has asked that we take a break from Savage Worlds—while still continuing with Game Night every Two Weeks—playing Board Games and What Not—then start a new campaign.

I've had some interest in the Weird West for the next campaign—any suggestions from anyone else that plays with us? (FYI—I already have material for running: Fantasy, Superhero(Antihero), Steam Punk(ish), and Sword & Planet) Also, agree or disagree to a couple Non Role Play Game Nights between sessions? If so, what games are people interested in playing?

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Love the Internet—I Hate Lazy Acronyms

More "Get-off-my-Lawn" Style Ranting—

I run across Acronyms on the internet that I have never seen before. I hate pausing to look them up. I hate the Laziness. I'm very meticulous about the things I post on the internet. If I catch a spelling or grammatical error, I fix it. I read most of my own posts at least three times before posting (did you notice how I wrote out three instead of using 3—yeah, I do that too).

Phrases I've run across that I had to look up in order to understand what someone was trying to say.



AFAIK and all its close relatives

IMO and all related ilk

LM*O and related derivatives—especially from people that wouldn't dream of cursing in the real world

R U...

There are more, but these are all ones that have annoyed me recently. This sort of behavior does not Facilitate Communication. It's bad enough that the one place I run into this the most, is the one Internet Forum that I frequent—a forum for a particular brand of Role Playing game, and everyone makes up acronyms for the different products that the company sells, as well as for rules contained in the game—frankly, the assumption that everyone knows what you mean when you refer to an obscure rule by an acronym not used in the rule book is just bad form. Definitions Below—See?! The ones you didn't know are driving you nuts.

OTOH—On the other Hand

TLDR—Too Long Didn't Read

AFAIK—As Far As I Know Etc.

IMO—In My Opinion Etc. (Especially IMHO—you are not expressing your opinion humbly!!)

LM*O—Laughing My "Head"Off, or worse (usually worse)

R U...—Are You Fill in the Blank


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Surreal Comment

I was reading a friend's Blog earlier today and he posed a question regarding the use of certain Photoshop features. I replied, and then later I saw him on Google Talk—we were chatting about that particular feature in Photoshop and I was telling him the solution I had used. I had a question as to whether the solution I used was the most efficient, because it seemed that there should be a better way.

So I Googled it. I read that the way I had done it was the only way to do it in the newer versions of Photoshop. In older versions of Photoshop there was a better way to do it which is why I thought the solution I had used was not the right way—though it was the only way I could figure out to do it.

So I read this tutorial, and as I read it, I thought of a workaround that would make the process a little easier the next time you wanted to do it. So I was reading the comments, and I was going to add my Idea as a comment—but the last poster had already suggested the same Idea that I was going to put in the comment.

Then I noticed the name of the person posting. It was my brother. It was a Surreal moment.

Beatlemania Update

I tried the vocals last night.

My wife is still not feeling well and did not participate.

I plugged in Two USB Microphones, and selected harmonies rather than solo. No, I have not mastered the art of Overtone Singing, but I wanted to see how it worked—because each instrument is generally controlled by a single Wii remote. The Microphones are controlled under a single Wii remote, and score as one player. So you can play with up to Six people at once: Guitar, Bass, Drums, & Microphone 1-3 (Some songs have a single vocal track some two, but most seemed to have three).

I did not fail out for not harmonizing. I tried on the first harmony track to sing the harmony, but couldn't quite find it, but at the end of the song it told me I got 1 of 7 harmonies.

I need to get a USB Hub and another Mic and have Some people over to play. I still don't think the gameplay is as optimized for group play as Guitar Hero; but being able to play with six players is cool. I'm Sure Guitar Hero 6 will steal and Improve upon the mechanic set forth by The Beatles: Rock Band.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The Beatles: Rock Band arrived in the mail yesterday. Very fun, very fun indeed—who DOESN'T like the Beatles? I can't think of anyone. This game is Beautifully crafted. The opening sequence starts with an homage to the opening sequence of A Hard Days Night done in a very stylized 2D cartoon reminiscent of 60's era T.V. animation and then highlights the bands albums in a beautiful blend of 3D renditions of that iconic artwork.

Game play is mostly the same as in previous Rock Band implementations with a few small changes: Overdrive has been thematically changed to "Beatlemania" and there is even an option that can be turned on that scales the Crowd Noise up to more realistic levels when Beatlemania is engaged. During Sustained notes the whammy bar can be used as in previous Rock Band games to collect extra Beatlemania, but unlike previous iterations of the game it does not warp the audio. Similarly when you are doing badly the aural cue of a mis-strummed guitar string has been toned down to almost nothing and booing crowds have been removed altogether.

Because the Beatles stopped being a touring band and moved onto being a studio band in the latter part of the Group's history the nature of the game visuals change at that point. Songs generally start depicting the band in studio and as you play the song the studio fades away into what has been dubbed "Dreamscapes." These dreamscapes are visually stunning "music video" style animations reminiscent of The Beatle's Movies (i.e. Help!, Yellow Submarine, and Magical Mystery Tour). These dreamscapes are crafted with a lot of love for the band and I almost failed out a couple times when playing Yellow Submarine because I was trying to watch the dreamscape and play at the same time.

Having played Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Guitar Hero: World Tour, Guitar Hero 5, and now The Beatles: Rock Band—I still feel that Guitar Hero is a better Game. The Guitar Hero Philosophy of Musical Rhythm Game trend toward the elements of Game and each installment of the series has sought to improve the playability and fun factor by adding new elements of game that either add challenge for seasoned players, or make it easier to play the game in a party/group setting—which is the ideal way to pretend you're playing in a band. Rock Band's Philosophy of Musical Rhythm Games trend more toward simulation, attempting to simulate the act of playing a real guitar or drums as closely as possible on Plastic Toy Iterations of said instruments—this sometimes results in repetitious gameplay.

Rock band was created by the creators of Guitar Hero after they lost the developmental rights, and Rock Band out Guitar Heroed Guitar Hero. Then Activision who retained the rights to the Gutar Hero Name enlisted the help of subsidiary Neversoft and Out Rock Banded Rock Band with Guitar Hero III. Rock Band 2 came out and was Rock Band with more songs, and very little in the way of competitive game improvements. Guitar Hero World tour and Guitar Hero 5 have continued to add new elements of gameplay and innovation. While The Beatles Rock Band is Extremely Fun and visually stunning, and a lovingly crafted, masterful, and artistic tribute to the Fab Four—as far as gameplay goes it's Rock Band with a retread—functionally the same.

Actually, I forgot—Three Part Harmony has been added to Rock Band: Beatles, but we haven't tried that out yet.

As a Game—Guitar Hero is Better. The Reason to have Rock Band 2 is the Sheer Amount of Music available in the game and as Download-able Content. The reason to have The Beatles: Rock Band is a no brainer—The Beatles. The Beautiful Visuals and the Awesome Sound of the Fab Four Make up for the fact that they haven't really updated the Gameplay since Rock Band (Three Part Harmony Notwithstanding).