Previously, in Trip's Life...

28 February 2002 - Thursday

Wow, a push of the front-end software that wasn't hideously annoying. Cool.

Also had a 1:1 meeting with my boss about my semi-yearly review. He doesn't hate me, which is pretty much what I was hoping for. It's not as if an Internet-based company is going to be giving raises, though.

* * *

Tonight we started a new series at Whisman Station Anime, Haunted Junction. It has more coherency and plot than Ja Ja Uma Quartette/Wildcardz but is wackier than anything else we've seen so far, edging out even Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko. Ray protests he didn't know what it was like when he bought it.

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27 February 2002 - Wednesday

The sad thing is, tonight's comics expenditure wasn't even a personal record. But if I find an ox that needs stunning, I'm all set!

Mmmm... comics... by liralen (Tue Mar 5 09:27:11 2002)

Mmmm... enough comics to stun an ox. I'm very impressed even if it wasn't a personal record.

Stun that ox! by Trip (Tue Mar 5 10:15:16 2002)

It may have been close to a personal record in volume of wood pulp, actually. It just wasn't a record in dollars, because I have previously bought multiple DVDs in a single Lee's run, and that adds up fast.

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25 February 2002 - Monday

There were a lot of unassigned tickets when I got to work. When I left work, there weren't any. Go us!

Also accomplished today:

  • read The Red Queen: Sex And The Evolution Of Human Nature by Matt Ridley, which has many fine biology bits about the war of maternal genes vs paternal genes and so forth (though he does seem to have a hate on for Stephen Jay Gould)
  • read White Plume Mountain, by Paul Kidd, which has an extremely amusing pixiefaerie, and otherwise good characterization, even if the writing is not that great
  • Um. Er. Uh...

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24 February 2002 - Sunday

Grocery shop. Read. Dinner. More grocery shopping. More reading1.

1: I have to finish this book Jeremy lent me so I can return it to him at Sovereign Powers on Sunday, and I have to read it now so that I can read at least some of the Paul Kidd D&D books before AQoJ on Saturday.

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23 February 2002 - Saturday

Today I um watched Buffy and Angel so I could return the tapes to Jim at his Weaselday party. Then I went to the Weaselday party, which was very loud. Jim looked spiffy in his green shirt and purple vest, and had a girlfriend with matching hair! There was much Lego.

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22 February 2002 - Friday

Slow day at work. Slow (well, unexciting) turn in TBG.

Moderately interesting issue of Scientific American, though. One article describes research indicating that early abuse (physical or psychological) does change the developing brain, preparing the child to grow up into a person suited to living in the hostile environment of his youth. Positive feedback, anyone?

The other article that bears mentioning (as I know so many people with spawn) is about research determining that yes, phonics (teaching kids to read by having them sound out words) does work better than whole-language approaches. Since apparently even in highly literate adults, written language gets converted into some internal analog to sounds, this only makes sense.

Oh, and an article on a model of the universe that involves cyclic Big Bangs but not a contracting universe. Branes (three-dimensional hypersurfaces in a higher-dimensional space, of which our universe appears to be one) collide, pumping energy into each other and rebounding, then (this is the weak part) sproing back towards each other, collide, et cetera ad infinitum.

Cosmology is cool.

Whole language by Silkie (Fri Feb 22 22:55:27 2002)

I'm curious. What do they define 'whole-language approaches' to be?

Re: Whole Language by Trip (Sat Feb 23 14:10:06 2002)

Whole-language instruction is an extension of whole-word methods, where the student is taught that "dog" means the yappy thing you play with, not that "d", "o", and "g" have these particular sounds, okay, now say them together, right, what word did you just say? Very good! The idea in whole-language is that students pick up the relations between written and spoken language incidentally as they learn whole words and phrases at a time from context. Since a lot of whole-language curricula focus on having kids enjoy reading, it naturally has a lot of appeal to educators and parents; it just doesn't work as well.

kana vs kanji by gconnor (Sun Feb 24 00:24:47 2002)

Speaking of whole language, it would seem that this would be more of a problem with Asian languages (well, Chinese and Japanese, because Korean is all-phonetic nowadays). Most adult reading material is in Kanji (all pictograms, not phonetic).

Interestingly, though, kids books (such as manga/comics) have "furigana" -- little tiny characters above or next to the pictogram that tell how to pronounce the word. Maybe this means that phonics wins over memorization of symbols.

There are also fewer phonic/syllable characters than Kanji characters, something like 46 to 1945. So you can teach the phonic symbols to grade school kids, but they are not reasonably expected to read all 1900+ symbols used to print the newspaper and magazines until high school or so. I think.

Re: Whole Language by Silkie (Sun Feb 24 12:26:30 2002)

Ah. That kind of whole language. Okay, I can believe the study.

The type of "whole-language instruction" I was told about encompasses phonics, and is the way I actually see kids learning how to read. Unfortunately, due to budgets sucking, that's not how it's actually taught.

When Bobby was almost 2, he would look at his cat in the Hat book and say "C-A-T! Mee!" ('Mee' was his word for cat.) After a while, he realized that he was pronouncing it incorrectly, since the letters weren't matching the sounds, so he corrected it to be 'meet'. :) He's much better about phonics now.

Re: kana vs kanji by Trip (Sun Feb 24 13:39:51 2002)

The article specifically mentioned that in China (which doesn't have kana) kids are first taught to read Chinese words written with Latin characters.

Chinese kana by liralen (Mon Feb 25 10:27:12 2002)

Actually, there is a Chinese equivalent to kana, there are about 50+ characters that are phonetically based, 20+ are the most common, and they're often used to teach words, used in combination for various combinatory sounds. There's actually a far stricter structure to Chinese word sounds than I knew. Dad actually gave me a book with the primary sounds. For Mandarine they're combined with an inflection marker / for up \ for down, a hook, like a v, for the third which inflects down and up and then a - for the flat inflection to create the sounds for words. They can be used singley or in two or three character combinations, depending on what's needed to represent the word.

Cantonese, I think, has sixteen inflections, so it's harder to represent.

If you see a character with smaller characters and an inflection mark alongside it, the smaller characters are the pronounciation. It's most often found in dictionaries.

I found the article!! by liralen (Tue Mar 5 09:30:41 2002)

And I can see why they used Latin spellings instead of the usual phonic sound characters, because learning to read a string of letters is very different than the way the Chinese use the phonetic characters. Usually you only see the complex, single character, normal usage does not involve the phonic sound characters, unlike in Japanese, where you can often see also see the word spelled out in kana, as it's used nearly as often, if not more often than the hiragana.

So to even start it's probably less confusing using something that seems completely foriegn that has to be translated than to see a usage of characters that doesn't get used on a common basis. That's pretty interesting.

So I guess I get to buy Jet some flashcards. grin

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21 February 2002 - Thursday

Last night I had a very long and impressive dream about "the next LotR movie" (not The Two Towers, a different one that existed only in the dream). It sort of intercut between touring the VR in which the sets were made and experiencing the parts of the movie that had already been made. Unfortunately I woke up after the dream and then went back to sleep, so a lot of it has faded, but I remember being very impressed by the sets we got to tour, even the half-constructed ones: underground tunnels and caves inhabited by elves hiding out from the Great Evil; shafts with spell-inscribed rubies strung across them on copper wire; pools filled with sheets of blue light folded back on themselves like brain coral, that the elves harvested for magic; a dark mountainside with a stone bridge leading to a dark hole from which a half-human, half-crab stone monster appeared. We even got to make suggestions to Peter Jackson, like "Wouldn't the elves have put this lamp above their eye level, not just above the viewpoint hobbit's eye level?"

The fragments of the movie were interesting too. In one, the viewpoint character was someone (maybe Legolas, but I'm not sure) to whom archery was a Solved Problem. Those five multi-eyed trolls down there need arrows in their heads? Onetwothreefourfive done. That horde of orcs and lesser trolls all have bows and are filling the air with arrows? Just stand there, because they'll all miss.

There was another segment with Frodo and Gandalf crossing a river on stepping stones, only to discover that one of them was enchanted with some sort of attraction/compulsion spell, that affected Gandalf but not Frodo, so there was a bit of Frodo trying to keep the much larger and stronger Gandalf from getting to the stone, and barely managing it. Then he made the mistake of referring to Gandalf as a Maiar, and the spell went chomp! There didn't seem to be any ill effects after he woke up, but apparently the stone had been giving the locals nightmares, which wasn't a good sign.

A brief snippet of Frodo, on the mountainside with the stone monster, blood running down his hand and the invisible blade of his sword as he used all his weight to impale the monster.

Aragon (or someone very like him) returning to the underground hideout of his people, to find them all dead, and not that long ago.

A young elven girl, who had the power to take the spells the elves made from the magic in the pool and turn them back into sheets of blue light, which was the only way to get rid of them.

Sliding/falling down a deep shaft, because there might or might not have been monsters at the bottom, but their certainly were at the top.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEE--

Oh well, I'm pretty sure it was a good dream while it lasted.

* * *

More Neon Genesis Evangelion this forenoon. I had forgotten just how very broken all the characters are.

* * *

Amazon shipped me the two Hal Clement collections they could find, and still promise to send the other one soon.

The very clever engineer who got first version of the current front-end software working and was then transferred to back-end software explained cool stuff about how ranking of web pages works, but I can't tell you. It did lead Bruce to ask me to add him to my friends page so he can get ranked more highly, though.

The scheduled push of new front-end software has been delayed, in hour increments, from 10:30 to, at the moment, 15:30.

My boss has forced me to eat Pocky. The shame. The horror.

* * *

Of course the push, when we finally did it, went all wrong and everyone was doomed. Fortunately, my antique browser which didn't autorefresh the stupid stupid GUI page for a third-party widget we use made both the push and the rollback much easier than they would otherwise have been. I felt like the old veteran potting the enemy with his M1 while the rest of the squad tries to clean the mud out of their new-fangled M16s.

Then I escaped to Whisman Station Anime, once again actually going by way of Whisman Station. Tonight, two more episodes of Sorcerer Hunters; one more episode of Nazca (finishing the DVD; hopefully the others will arrive before next week!); and the Geobreeders movie, which was easier to follow than the manga due to color-coding of the characters, but spawned the frightening thought, "What if Velcro got hold of a tank?".

* * *

I am still very bad at going to bed on time.

tolkien dreams! by kit (Thu Feb 21 18:58:02 2002)

De-Tolkien your dream and write it into an Epic Fantasy Novel of your own! :)

Yay, cool dreams!! by liralen (Fri Feb 22 17:07:33 2002)

Wow! you have the coolest dreams.

Eeek! Pocky! The shame!

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20 February 2002 - Wednesday

Today, I will actually review Transhuman Space!

Many, even most, SF games are firmly rooted in what I'll call Old Style Space Opera: lots of new physics (FTL, antigravity, forcefields) but computers kept to a minimum (sometimes by astounding contortions) and biotech/human upgrades limited to early-Gibson-style cyberbuttkickingware. Even Fading Suns, the most 90s (pseudo)SF game I can think of, just merges OSSO with nonSF elements; it doesn't actually bring anything new to SF, or even draw on the more recent developments in SF.

But now we have Transhuman Space.

By the year 2100 of the THS setting, there have been no revolutions in physics (that are usable for engineering, at any rate)1 but computing, biotech, and nanotech are going full speed ahead into a posthuman future.

Although cyberpunk is clearly an ancestor of this genre, it's a pretty optimistic future: the 21st century has its share of wars, and injustices great and small, but the average lot of humanity is better off than a century previously, and some are much better off. Technological innovation has neither been murdered nor run wild devouring the Earth, most of the solar system has been visited, if not actually explored in detail2, and the transformation of humanity (or its children) into something better proceeds apace. Genetically-engineered monstrosities, nano-assembled half-living androids, Web-based entities of pure data, killer robots, AIs living in your head, it's all here.

THS has a "Powered by GURPS" logo on the cover, and the warning that provides about the wonky GURPS point-based system3 and use of lame US measurements is not empty, but otherwise the material is mostly4 both futuristic and realistic , and could easily be swiped for any other hard-SF application. The space travel and space combat sections are drastically simplified, but hey, the author only had a couple hundred pages to work with, and they couldn't all be appendices. And he does admit where he simplified.

Transhuman Space is by David L Pulver, author of other fine hard-SF gaming material such as GURPS Biotech and Centauri Knights, and a man who Understands About Kittygirls5 . It's available directly from Steve Jackson Games, or at good (and mediocre) game stores near you. At least three supplements (Earth, the rest of the inner solar system, and the outer solar system) are planned, and if you rush right out and buy them all, there will probably be more!

1: As a corollary, THS blows off the standard GURPS Tech Level chart (which is hard-core OSSO, by way of Traveller) in favor of Toffler's "wave" terminology, which is explicitly about what technologies and industries your economy is built on, not which new physics you have. First Wave (manual agriculture), Second Wave (industrial manufacturing), and Third Wave (computers and networks) are I think all straight from Toffler; Fourth Wave (genetic engineering and other biotech) and Fifth Wave (artificial sapience and nanotech) are the fictional extensions of the sequence through the end of the 21st century.

2: Yet.

3: "So that's 1 point per finger, +100% cost if it's opposable, -50% if it shares musculature with another digit, +25% for each joint beyond two..."

4: I am dubious about the lack of good portable energy sources, since we know aircraft mounted lasers are c. 2005 tech, not 2050. But possibly smart bullets have more flavor.

5: Not something that can be said about the artist, alas. In fact, the art is pretty much entirely pointless, even where it's representational.

* * *

I hacked into another Starnet terminal, made a new enemy (by recruiting crew from their Most Wanted list), got a sensor and no damage from the big ship I was paired with, and remained Tribune, so I must rate this as a pretty good TBG turn.

* * *

In a surprise move, Wednesday Night Fun relocated to the Bertani-Youngs' on about 2½ hours' notice, but everyone I expected to show up, did, and we had a bonus Christy as well! We played Who Stole Ed's Pants?6, which had higher production values and less clarity than a Cheapass game, but was fun anyway, then Chez Dork (Rebecca won, because I was stupid) and Fluxx. The glorious moment of this Fluxx game was Dave having a huge hand, slapping down Play All, playing 295629290 of his 295629291 cards and then the final Swap Hands, getting Chrisber's huge hand, playing all of those, including Pilfer the Trash to get back the Swap Hands, and then taking my huge hand and playing it all. I think he went through thirty cards in that one turn, without even drawing any.

6: I did, apparently.

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19 February 2002 - Tuesday

Today's accomplishments:

  • Got in before anyone else in my group who works normal hours
  • Got down to three open tickets, one of which is to be closed tomorrow
  • Assured Angie that I don't hate her
  • Mostly dealt with TBG stuff
  • Wrote 500 words to make Chrisber run Great Circumferential Railroad
  • Miscellaneous other writing
  • Exchanged my defective copy of Transhuman Space for one with the full allotment of page numbers
  • Chortled over Outlaw Star vol 2 and the Big Box of British SF
  • Finished reading Transhuman Space; bonus points for having small alligators peelable to reveal the banana-y insides, but points off for being in US measurements1

Now I think I will watch more Saber Marionette J.

1: Not that one expects better from GURPS, I admit.

Accomplishments! by liralen (Fri Feb 22 17:08:45 2002)

Yay! Accomplished Trip!

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18 February 2002 - Monday

Happy Angieday!

* * *

I meant to get up early today, but I failed and fell back asleep and didn't wake up until the UPS man knocked on the door to hand me a copy of Manifold: Origin (Stephen Baxter). Then I began dealing with the TBG turn (I will probably be morally forced to use the Tribune's sole power of painting a big bullseye on myself and going "Neener neener" at the largest ships in the game), ate a brunch, and slunk off to Millbrae.

The slinking process was not as efficient as it could have been, because Caltrain has a randomly different schedule on semiholidays like President's Day and I didn't think to look up the schedule on the web until I had already left to leave a good margin for getting to Millbrae in time. But it all worked out in the end.

On the way home, I stopped at Chef Chu's to eat dinner because I had been foiled on both Saturday and Sunday nights. This time I was not denied! Then I picked up some groceries and lugged them home, and now I am writing on my web page.

I finished Masters of the Wild, the D&D3e escalation guide for barbarians, druids, and rangers, on the train, and currently think it's pretty cool. Possibly this is because I have an unnatural1 liking for prestige classes that let you turn into slimy amorphous horrors.

1: As if it could be a natural liking.

Prestige Class by Carl (Tue Feb 19 16:23:00 2002)

Amaryllis the Ooooozemaster!

Except Sherilyn isn't using the splatbooks, so no Dire Elephant Holy Mount for Sophia, either. Darn!

-- Carl

"Flatten Evil!"

Ooooozemasters by Trip (Tue Feb 19 16:31:14 2002)

Nah, Amaryllis would never go for something that lowered her Charisma. But it would make a great villain!

Wouldn't Sophia have to be about 35th level to get a dire elephant for her paladin mount? But at least the rest of us wouldn't need mounts!

I wonder if retyping things from a splatbook and mailing them to Sherilyn to be evaluated on their own merits would work...

Splatbooks! by Silkie (Tue Feb 19 23:54:12 2002)

I said no splatbooks in an attempt to keep the amount of extra reading to a minimum. Your generous offer to retype the books to get extra material admitted to the game sort of defeats the purpose of this. :)

That said, if there's something you absolutely, postively have to have, well, we can discuss it.

Speaking of AQoJ, are we doomed for that weekend? Is everybody going to Angieday instead?

Splatbooks & AQoJ by Trip (Wed Feb 20 08:18:15 2002)

I wasn't thinking of retyping whole splatbooks; that would be a copyright violation, which in the New Corporate Republic of Bushlandia is a capital crime. But if you let me make up a spell, it seems only fair that you should let, for example, Rebecca make up a spell which just happens to be the same as one in Masters of the Wild, or one in an issue of Dragon. (On the other hand, since Rebecca has 16 hours a day in which to type, this might not be fair at all. :)

So far as I know, everyone in AQoJ plans on going to Roseville on the 2d, because you scheduled first. You might want to send out mail to verify this, but so far as I know, there is No Doom.

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17 February 2002 - Sunday

Today I must write! Well, I should write. And it's not like I don't have things to write. I'm just a lazy bum.

* * *

Still lazy. Still a bum. I did have yummy Mexican dinner with Chrisber and Christy, though, which was sort of like human interaction, and I walked home, which was sort of like exercise. (I also had a bookstore accident, but it was at the used bookstore, where I still have $126 of credit, so it doesn't really count.)

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16 February 2002 - Saturday

Today I um. Ate out. And read. And played a whole lot of larn, very badly. And watched the first three episodes of Saber Marionettes J, which is pretty silly. I like the palanquinmobiles, though.

Oh, and I wrote a little tiny bit, which the inhabitants of the dark future where private citizens cannot delete files will doubtless appreciate.

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15 February 2002 - Friday

Some combination of Angie's fine fridge sign, the Dilbert comic I posted on the fridge, the DO NOT STEAL sign I stapled to my food, and random chance kept my one remaining minneola safe from the Fruit-Stealing Rat Bastard. Yay!

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14 February 2002 - Thursday

Whatever rat-bastard suckweasel has been swiping food out of the fridge at work has taken another of my minneolas! Despite Angie's fine sign! Grrr!

Oh, and it's Valentine's Day. Hmph.

* * *

My boss got his wife a car for Valentine's Day. There was much muttering that he's making other guys look bad, but on the other hand, he works about 298653926591 hours a week, so I'm glad he's getting some sort of reward for it.

* * *

Today, by popular acclaim, we started watching Neon Genesis Evangelion at work anime. We only got through two episodes due to technical difficulties, but it was still cool. Not as twisted as I recalled, but this is the second time I've seen the first episodes, so I guess that's not surprising.

I actually rode the light rail to Whisman Station Anime, which was okay except for the part where Ray's directions said "go left" without specifying an initial orientation1. I ended up going around the wrong two sides of a block, but ended up at the right intersection and was able to arrive well before all those people with cars, neener neener!

None of the serieses has changed its fundamental nature, so I can't say much more than I have said previously without spoiling. However, we have run out of Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko, so next week we will see the Geobreeders movie (along with Sorcerer Hunters and Nazca).

I wimped out and got a ride home, though, so I had the opportunity to go to bed at a reasonable hour. If only I had answered its knock...

* * *

Valentie's Day is over, and the only femme who has given me a valentine is Angie, who is a babe, but doesn't go for short, fat, bald, funny-looking space parasites. Oh well. It was nice of her anyway!

Angie's fine sign by Silkie (Thu Feb 14 13:58:42 2002)

What does her sign say? Did she put up a copy of the Sunday Dilbert comic with the free sodas and the PHB? (That's Pointy-Haired Boss, not Players Handbook.)

Re: Angie's fine sign by Trip (Thu Feb 14 14:53:22 2002)

Food in this
fridge is NOT
communal;
don't eat it if
you didn't
bring it.

Angie didn't post the Dilbert, but I did. :)

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13 February 2002 - Wednesday

That was a lot more like sleep than anything I've seen in the past few days. I guess it was running out of drugs that hosed me.

This does weaken the case against the sugarfreelowfatalmondcaramelpopcorn1 somewhat, but I remain suspicious.

1: translated directly from the German

* * *

Ayse and Rebecca have finished XYZing my books! Hurray! Perhaps this will inspire me to deal with my accumulating comics.

Also, Dave has proven his mastery of Fluxx and of the new James Ernest Game, Nexus. (Rebecca gave him a good run in Nexus, but I am just a slimy little parasite. Wum.)

And I forgot to give Ayse her comics, because I am extralame.

sugarfreelowfatalmondcaramelpopcorn1 by keet (Wed Feb 13 09:38:04 2002)

you are very silly. :)

Re: sugarfreelowfatalmondcaramelpopcorn1 by Trip (Wed Feb 13 10:08:02 2002)

I resemble that remark!

Re: Re: sugarfreelowfatalmondcaramelpopcornl by tamago (Wed Feb 13 10:13:38 2002)

I keep wanting to read that as: sugarfree low FATAL mondcaramel popcorn

Re: sugarfreelowFATALmondcaramelpopcorn by Trip (Wed Feb 13 11:26:46 2002)

Exactly!

Re: Re: sugarfreelowFATALmondcaramelpopcorn by tamago (Wed Feb 13 12:53:54 2002)

What I want to know is, what, then is "mondcaramel"?

Re: mondcaramel by Trip (Wed Feb 13 15:41:06 2002)

I'm not sure, but it sounds vaguely French. Maybe it's a sticky confection that's been around a while and knows how things really work?

Re: mondcaramel by tamago (Wed Feb 13 17:25:17 2002)

Now that I think of it, this is a Jamaican expression, as in: "Mon, de caramel!" This would be said just after warning you it was fatal. It's like the old song:

Deyyyyo! Me say deyyyyo! (Daylight come and me wanna go home.) Fatal, Mon, de caramel popcorn! (Daylight come and me wanna go home.)

Re: mondcaramel by Trip (Thu Feb 14 08:14:22 2002)

I am no longer the silliest person in this thread.

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12 February 2002 - Tuesday

Mmm, nothing like the taste of fresh foot to start a day off right!

* * *

But more dizziness. Either my foot has a very high glycemic index, or there is something else wrong with me, sigh.

[insert obvious joke here]

* * *

Having nothing in particular (besides everything) to do this evening, I stopped on my way home to eat yummy Thai yellow curry chicken and vegetable fried rice, and finish GURPS Cthulhupunk. Sadly, the latter was a straightforward agglomeration of Call of Cthulhu, GURPS Cyberworld, and CoC -> GURPS conversion: it didn't add much, if anything, new.

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11 February 2002 - Monday

First day of the mandatory 8am workstart, whee. Since I have been in the habit of getting to work at 8-8:15 for quite a few months now, I only had to shift my gettingup time about fifteen minutes earlier to guarantee making the right bus, but since it is now mandatory, it is a hideous inconvenience. Hmph.

I spent all weekend being social, which is very unlike being useful, so I have lots of journalling and web-browsing and writing and TBG mail and game design to catch up on. And laundry. And I should try to score some mind-altering substances. And probably something else I'm failing to remember just now. Oh, right. Work. :)

* * *

And I should update the Xocolotl writeup with information specific to each of the other PCs' psychlims.

And make a character for Earl's Champions game. 475 points, except when the half limit comes up and it's only 100 points. Yike.

* * *

Yow! To go with the vat-grown replacement organs, have a uterine replicator!

* * *

Journalling, check. Web-browsing, check. Writing, mostly check. TBG mail, mostly check. Mind-altering substances are available for pickup. Laundry is at home.

So I still need to do game design, Xocolotl writeup, Champions character, a bit of writing, and some TBG stuff. It would all be much easier if the network wasn't inserting a few deciseconds of lag between random keystrokes to make character-oriented tasks like editing plain text files AGONIZINGLY FRUSTRATING.

Soon I will take my very very small brain home.

* * *

The sugar-free low-fat almondcaramelpopcorn Angie brought me from LA tastes quite good, but I suspect it of being poisoned.

* * *

Well, more to the point, I suspect it of having an insanely high glycemic index so that it causes my blood sugar to spike and then immediately crash through the floor, since I finished off the bag when I got home and very shortly thereafter got dizzy spells which went away when I ate a Trader Joe's frozen burrito (yummy and an antidote to almondcaramelpopcorn!).

Or maybe I was just faint with anger and revulsion at hearing that Rebecca had let her mother speak to her again. It's not ethically defensible to murder the bitch1, but I would feel not the slightest bit of sorrow at hearing that she had died slowly, painfully, and completely alone, amid the wreckage of everything she had ever valued2.

1: The mother; Rebecca is hopelessly self-destructive, but otherwise a perfectly nice person.

2: I do not use the phrase "cared about" for obvious reasons.

the uterine replicator by liralen (Mon Feb 11 17:16:15 2002)

WOW!! Thanks for the link, that's very interesting indeed!!

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10 February 2002 - Sunday

Although I got up at a quasi-reasonable hour, I somehow managed to fritter away so much time that after going grocery shopping I was late to Earl & Cat's housewarming. (Not that it mattered, since people pretty much wandered in and out all afternoon.) Many things were discussed, but few conclusions or decisions were reached, which was okay; it was just a party. Eventually, those who had not escaped were taken to Ariake and forced (forced I say!) to eat sushi. It was just terrible.

Since I have moved my standard hour of arising to a slightly earlier point in the day1, I tried to go to bed actually early, which meant no time to do laundry (tomorrow, argh), but I did watch Buffy. It was okay, although I'm pretty sure modern forensics is better than that2.

I also had a small amazon.co.uk accident. Oops.

1: Is that moving it forward? Back? Up? Down?

2: Although maybe all the conscientious forensicists in Sunnydale have been eaten by ghouls, leaving only the ones who never went into the morgue.

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9 February 2002 - Saturday

I slept in and slept in and lay about uselessly in bed and then it was time to get up and go to Amber High School, so I did.

Our Heroes saw many whales and received royal presents and underwent another journey by ship and finally burst into someone's house, deceived (or at least deeply confused) them, and laid the ghost of their long-dead relative to rest. Once it was all explained, Our Heroes were not ridden out of town on a rail or even locked up as lunatics, which was at least as great a triumph as getting the ghost out of Hamilton's head.

Next stop, Xocolotl!

The traditional post-mortem dinner was held at Spoons, which did not seem to agree with anyone. Bleah. I tried to claim that there should be less detailed description and blow-by-blow playing-out of ordinary actions, like whalewatching, but no one agreed with me. Perhaps I should have just agitated against the blow-by-blow playing-out, and asked the GM to give us big lumps of description instead of stringing it out. Or maybe I should shut up and stay in my corner.

Then we went back to the Kruger-Murdochs' and spent the evening searching for the lost art of conversation (and getting clawed by Marmalade due to the inadequacy of the cat toy, but playing fetch with a kitten is too cute). So much for watching Buffy tonight, or even getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

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8 February 2002 - Friday

TBG is getting exciting! Now that I have been Tribune for two turns running and seem to have something like the mandate of the people (at least, of my people), my opponents are making anonymous death threats and my allies are trying to use me to further their own moral causes. Hee hee.

* * *

But did I do anything today? I watched a recent episode of Angel, which was okay even though silly American TV standards prevented Charisma Carpenter from actually appearing topless.

Then I went to bed.

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7 February 2002 - Thursday

Thursday, the day of all anime! At work, we finished the first season of Ranma ½, so we need to come up with something for next week. Or I can just spend lunch every Thursday sitting my cube and sighing, "Shampoo..."

At Whisman Station Anime, we saw more Sorcerer Hunters and got a bit of plot because Ray accidentally put in the tape for next week's episodes instead of this week's episodes. It's still so episodic that it doesn't matter much, though.

I think the best way to sum up the setting of Bubble Gum Crisis is to say that it's the future in which the police station has a neon sign. And no one has cell phones, apparently.

Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko remains wacky, but bonus points for Yohko's extremely ragged and asymmetric cutoffs (tornoffs? no, that would be if Ayse got to her). And Nazca continues to have reincarnated Incan goodness.

Sleepy parasite.

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6 February 2002 - Wednesday

Today I asked my boss for more work. He gave me some. Then I went and got comics (yay!), tried to pick up my prescription but failed because my shrink-of-record has been kidnapped by aliens (boo!), and came home to finish the latest move in the lettergame.

* * *

Oh, and I became Tribune of the People in TBG, which apparently means that I get to tick off one ship much larger than me every turn starting week after next. But I won on the platform "I'm neither Majestik Moose nor Breisinga-men!", which is entertaining.

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5 February 2002 - Tuesday

This morning is also a morning of great lethargy, although at least I didn't miss the bus.

* * *

And an afternoon of great lethargy as well, although some work materialized just in time to keep me from leaving at 16:30.

* * *

Reviewing Sorcerer & Sword reminded me of something that the Nifft the Lean books made me aware of, which is my strange fondness for what could be labelled the "Ancient Earth" subgenre of speculative fiction. By this I mean those works set on the Earth of the far future, after humanity has reached great peaks of achievement which have been mostly lost by the time of the story. The two best-known examples of this are Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun pentalogy, and Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" books, The Dying Earth, Rhialto the Marvellous, Cugel's Saga, and The Eyes of the Overworld, but there are others, such as Matthew Hughes's Vance pastiches Fools Errant and Fool Me Twice, and of course Michael Shea's Nifft the Lean, The Mines of Behemoth, and The A'Rak.

Post-holocaust settings don't usually qualify: they're either focused on the specific disaster and recovery from it (or lack thereof), or the past has been completely swept away. In neither case is there the weight of accumulated history that is so essential for an Ancient Earth setting.

Ancient Earth isn't quite the same as the "Digging in the Ruins" subgenre I am also fond of, again by virtue of the weight of history: the Ancient Earth has not just one past peak to mine, but ones without number.

I call my fondness for Ancient Earth strange not because it's unrealistic (though it is1), but because it's a subgenre that is very strongly anti-progress: no matter what you build, it will crumble to dust; no matter what you learn, it will be forgotten. As a small-t transhumanist, I find Ancient Earth settings both depressing and implausible, so I have no idea why I like them. But I do.

1: Analogies to the fall of Rome neglect that that was a local phenomenon that left much of the planet undisturbed. Also, the sun will kill the Earth by becoming too bright, not by guttering out 2, and it seems very unlikely that there will be anything recognizable as human by then; either we'll change ourselves, or we'll remain animals and natural selection will change us.

2: Although The Book of the New Sun does at least imply that the sun's fading is not due to normal aging.

Trip's overwhelming wonderfulness by monytiggie (Tue Feb 5 15:34:15 2002)

Thank you so much for the gift :) I love it! It really made my day!

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4 February 2002 - Monday

Yep, there is much lethargy this morning. And Christy has defused my evil lettergame plot. Sniff!

* * *

Finally I have finished the AHS thing for Chrisber! A whole five days before the game! (Which means it took 23 days which means I wrote an average of 154 words per day.)

Still on my metaphorical plate: lettergame, Transmundane, Heaven Help Hiaku!, review of The Complete Paratime, and probably other things I'm not remembering right now.

If I'm wicked, shouldn't I be having more fun?

Lettergame by Tamago (Mon Feb 4 10:32:09 2002)

Now I take the mantle of Evil One, to wear until you venture another salvo.

Mua ha ha ha ha!

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3 February 2002 - Sunday

I stayed up reading until an hour long after any sensible one, so I slept in pretty indolently and will die a horrible death tomorrow. But these things happen.

* * *

Now I will review Jewel BEM Hunter Lime, in a pathetic bid to make today not a complete waste.

The story is, if not precisely a standard one, at least composed of standard anime elements: supernatural creatures from the Magic World come to Earth, chasing a renegade who has stolen six maguffins of unlimited power. Violence ensues and the maguffins plummet into Tokyo where they begin spawning monsters that the heroes1 must defeat before they can recover the maguffins. Disguising themselves as humans, the heroes descend into Tokyo and wacky hijinks ensue.

Over, this show rates "Adequate". The one element that stands out is the monsters, who are exceptionally silly, fairly sympathetic, and have actual personalities. Monsters with legitimate beefs against humanity, who would have thought?

Since three of the maguffins are recovered in the three episodes on the first DVD, it seems likely that there will be only six episodes total. I will probably buy the second DVD.

1: Cover blurb notwithstanding, there are actually two main characters, and Lime is the brighter of the two, or at least the less hormone-driven.

* * *

Since what I stayed up all night reading was to some degree source material for it, I might as well review Sorcerer & Sword, by Ron Edwards.

Sorcerer & Sword is a supplement for the game Sorcerer1, which explains how to use those rules for the Heroic Fantasy (aka Swords & Sorcery) genre. If you look at things through the right filter, this actually works out pretty well.

The first chapter is devoted to explaining what the author means by Heroic Fantasy: the genre, or at least style, of the original Conan books, which are really nothing like D&D2 or like mainstream modern fantasy novels: no elves, no uplifting journeys of self-discovery, no household magic, no kill-monsters-to-get-generic-magic-items-to-to-kill-bigger-monsters cycle. They also aren't much like the Conan movies: no brainless heroes who triumph through brute strength and nothing else, no brainless villains with lame magic.

Other sources explicitly referenced are Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & The Grey Mouser stories, C L Moore's Jirel of Joiry stories, all sorts of stuff by Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Moorcock's Elric stories, some of Tanith Lee's work, and of course Michael Shea's stories of Nifft the Lean.

Sorcerer works for this genre because the heroes of these stories are usually waist-deep in magic, and not just killing Wicked SorcerersTM but calling up, putting down, bargaining with, wielding, and otherwise getting involved with supernatural creatures (a category which includes magic items with their own agendas, like Stormbringer (which even gets top billing in some places!)).

To show the flexibility of this style, the three example setting/campaign ideas (also used as context for other examples throughout the book) are Arabian Nights fantasy (minarets, naked snake-women, hot glances over veils, all drawn by Chris Achilleos), the European forests of the original märchen3 (strange old witches, dangerous faerie folk, horrible secrets hidden in ancient villages, illustrated by Berni Wrightson), and post-Holocaust science-fantasy (mutant monsters, radioactive ruins, scraps of ancient technology serving as magic, with art by Möbius).

As in Sorcerer, the emphasis is on decisions that reveal character, not tactical decisions like how far to stand behind the thief while he opens the dungeon door; in the original fiction, there's not much doubt that the hero is going to survive the story, so there shouldn't be in the game (unless the hero decides to die). Edwards even suggests playing episodes out of chronological sequence; just because you know that your character is going to sacrifice herself to save the kingdom she's created when she's fifty doesn't mean the decisions she makes at twenty-five can't be interesting.

Understandably, much of the book is about, or at least based around, adapting Sorcerer to work with this genre, but in the process a great deal about the genre is made clear. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Heroic Fantasy or more generally in fantasy other than the modern generic sort, regardless of their preferred game system.

Sorcerer & Sword is available from Adept Press, along with Sorcerer, other Sorcerer supplements (some available only in softcopy), and Elfs.

1: Sorcerer, also by Edwards, is a game in which all PCs are sorcerers, able to summon and bind demons of various sorts for supernatural power. The tag line is "What will you do to get what you want?" since demons come with antisocial personalities and unpleasant needs to annoy you even if there aren't any humans between you and your goal. The mechanics are very simple: characters have Mind, Body, Magical Lore, and Humanity stats which by definition cover every roll you might want to make, all rolls are opposed (if it's not opposed, it's not a roll), and you get a number of successes equal to the number of your dice which are higher than the highest of the opposing dice, which pretty much convert one-for-one into bonus for something else, penalties to your enemy, or whatever.)

2: Not even 1st edition barbarians; in fact, they may be farther from the original Conan.

3: What fairy tales were called before they were rewritten to be all fluffiness and light and have the protagonists survive and stuff.

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2 February 2002 - Saturday

I have successfully viewed Le Pacte des Loups! And, as advertised, it was a pretty fine movie! There is a nontrivial amount of gore1, but it has Native American martial arts! And vile French politics! And fancy clothes!

I would say many more things, but I don't want to get into spoilers, so I will only say to go see it!

1: Duh; it's a movie about a hideous monster that eats hundreds of people!

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1 February 2002 - Friday

I have implemented my hideous plan for the lettergame! Christy is doomed! DOOMED, I tell you!

* * *

I am very very sleepy. I don't want to do anything.

* * *

But I did go to Earl's birthday (observed) dinner and didn't die even though it was full of children. Yummy Thai food! And I got signed up for a monthly Champions game, and formed the rudiments of a plan to see Brotherhood of the Wolf tomorrow.

lettergame by tamago (Sun Feb 3 12:33:44 2002)

You are EEEEEEVILLE!

Re: lettergame by Trip (Sun Feb 3 15:40:23 2002)

Hee hee hee hee hee!

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