Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 July 2013 - Wednesday

This customer is becoming a Problem. (Obviously, they think we're the problem.)

Chineese food! Also, Earthdawn! Our band of wandering publicity-seekers successfully brokered a treaty between the t'skrang city of Ktenshin and the naga city of Ynys Salyr, and got their names written into the treaty as being of inestimable aid. It's a secret treaty, but at least important people will see their names.

Then, back to the kaer where the painting of the hidden city was found, which was in the process of being cleansed of organic matter by a giant undead katamari. Did you know that nethermancers can destroy undead just by staring at them?

Only about 5000 more LP and Isidari can be 6th circle!

Twelve paws!

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30 July 2013 - Tuesday

Well, at least it's not Monday any more, but the customers are still revolting.

You (Austin Grossman) is nominally the story of a video game developer, but really is about the philosophical implications of video game characters. Kind of.

Throne of the Crescent Moon (Saladin Ahmed) is in many ways a fairly standard fantasy story, but it is set in fantasy medieval Middle East instead of fantasy medieval Europe, which is at least interesting.

Twelve fuzzy paws!

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29 July 2013 - Monday

Boo, Monday!

The print version of Gunnerkrigg Court (Thomas Siddell) is naturally behind, because atoms are so slow, but it is definitely worth rereading. Volume covers from when Annie returns from the forest to the choosing of a Court medium. Also, giant bug monsters.

Midnight Girl (Will Shetterly) is about a girl with a mysterious family and a mysterious family secret... OF DOOM! It was not astounding, but it was okay YA.

Ad Astra (Jack Campbell) is a collection of okay-but-not-astounding old-school SF short stories by the guy who wrote the "Lost Fleet" series.

The Six Directions of Space (Alastair Reynolds) is a... novella? a shorter piece, anyway, about the galactic empire built by the descendents of the Mongols who conquered all of Eurasia, and their inevitable doom.

Twelve paws!

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28 July 2013 - Sunday


Apparently I have nothing to talk to people at parties about, because my life is empty and pointless. However, I can take up space and eat chips with sour cream onion dip nearly as well as anyone else.

OtoBoku: Maidens are Falling For Me is sort of a cross between Strawberry Panic and Strawberry Eggs.

Cats don't mind that I have no interesting conversation.

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27 July 2013 - Saturday



  • Steins;Gate 15: I thought that might be the case, but now that the PCs have come to the same conclusion, does that mean it has to be shown to be wrong?
  • Cross Game 16: The old guy is every bit as terrifying as we thought.
  • Persona4 13-14: Time to grind those social links!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 4-5:
  • Steins;Gate 16: Will they figure out how to fix this?

Twelve fuzzy paws!

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26 July 2013 - Friday

Hey, the week is over!

The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight is a spin-off of Jack Campbell's "Lost Fleet" series, following the adventures of a couple of minor characters encountered in one episode as they attempt to break free of the disintegrating antagonistic empire and rule in a slightly less brutal fashion. They are hampered by memetic poverty and lingering secret police, and also the rest of the disintegrating fragments.

Twelve paws!

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25 July 2013 - Thursday

Is this week over yet? Oh.

Quiet (Susan Cain) is subtitled "The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking", which to an introvert seems like an excellent description of American society since the early 20th century. (It's probably Dale Carnegie's fault.)

Just about every idea in business (brainstorming! open-plan offices! we're all in Sales!), child-raising (get out and play more! you can be friends with everyone if you only try! work on it together!), and pretty much everything else has been decent[*] advice for extroverts, and why do we even have that word? It's not like there's any other kind of person, and if there were, they would need years of therapy to become more outgoing.

[*]Except brainstorming, which apparently only makes people think they have had more better ideas.

Curse you, extroverts!

Twelve paws!

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24 July 2013 - Wednesday

Ambar's company has successfully discerned that I am made of 117% pure suck. Oh well.

This week's Earthdawn food was Thai. This week's Earthdawn adventure was trying to persuade the nagas to stop letting people become their slaves, and join the social contract of general Namegiver society. Isidari managed to persuade one of the dumb ones, but her smarter sister was more skeptical. Still, they have an agreement for a naga ambassador to meet with whatever representative of the social order can be dug up in two weeks, which seems like it should be good for either Legend points, or an ignominious and soggy death.

When the Saints (Dave Duncan) is the sequel to Speak to the Devil, in which the somewhat-hapless hero is confused, vamped, tried, wedded, and implicated (in no particular order).

Twelve paws!

interviews by Graydon (Sat Jul 27 13:50:53 2013)

Y'know, Trip, speaking as a guy who's been on the company side of the interview table quite a bit, typically as the grumpy guy there to say no on technical grounds, going into an interview convinced one is significantly constructed of suck is highly prejudical to your cause.

I mean, sure, there are people who give really good interview out there, and you can test for "can they actually do things?" to filter out the ones for whom "gives good interview" is their best skill.

There are also people who, well, they _might_ be capable, but they sure don't think so. Safest to believe them, because we have no empirical test for morbid self image.

What Graydon said! by marith (Sat Jul 27 22:50:15 2013)

When people are interviewing a lot of candidates and only get a little time with each one, they are strongly influenced by affect, attitude and mannerisms. It's not fair, but it's inevitable. You are very competent and knowledgeable - Ambar wouldn't have referred you just out of friendship and compassion, you know. She's not that sort of person.

(Also, you should definitely use a separate professional gmail address for resumes/work stuff, if you don't already, and make sure this blog is dissociated from your real name. Recruiting/HR people will search on your name, and you don't want them reading your personal journal.)

Re: What Graydon Said! by Trip (Mon Jul 29 09:03:55 2013)

I don't think I was self-deprecating in the interview. I'm pretty sure they decided to pass based on my answers to technical questions.

I do have a professional gmail address, but I didn't realize Ambar was going to just pass on the address I gave to her directly. :(

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23 July 2013 - Tuesday

Oh no! I cannot renew the library book that is due today because someone else wants it! But I did not bring it because I was going to renew it! I will have a LATE FEE!

I wonder how overdue a book has to be before they send out the library ninjas? Also, why are none of my characters Library Ninjas?

Volume 4 of Gate 7 (CLAMP), and I still mostly have no idea who these historical figures are, but on the other hand, CLAMP!

Speak to the Devil (Dave Duncan) reminds me a lot of the Judith Tarr books about the elves during the Crusades. The magicians are ostensibly human, but teleport, have a wide variety of other powers that seem to be limited only by being short range, and are mostly ridiculously goodlooking. On the other hand, they do have meaningful opposition.

Up to volume 12 of Gantz (Oku Hiroya), and the apparently random other weirdness is now getting tied back to the original weirdness, although still without any explanations. Presumably this is because only manga that caters to stupid Americans explains things.

Twelve paws!

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22 July 2013 - Monday

What, Monday already?

That Which Should Not Be (Brett J Talley) is mediocre Lovecraft pastiche which misses the point by making humans significant and even drags in Christian mythology.

Sea Change (S M Wheeler) is set in a fairytale world that is nevertheless gritty, which pleases me. (Avalon, I blame you!) Also, tentacular friendship.

Possibly I should have done something with my evening besides read more Gantz (Oku Hiroya), but I didn't. Still not much explanation of where the doom comes from (other than the fetid depths of the human soul).

Twelve paws!

Sea Change by marith (Tue Jul 23 18:58:29 2013)

In a true tentacular friendship, no one has to be the sucker?

Re: Sea Change by Trip (Tue Jul 23 19:36:03 2013)

Why, oh why, did we let you have control of the Dave bat?

Re: Sea Change by marith (Wed Jul 24 01:23:18 2013)

Natural affinity!

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21 July 2013 - Sunday

No gaming, because Mike is having Advanced Civilization for his birthday. I am too lame to go.

Apparently today is a day for horrifying manga!

Sankarea (Mitsuru Hattori) is not actually that horrifying, but it is a zombie love story, so it counts.

Gantz (Oku Hiroya) is in fact that horrifying, in a variety of ways. The scanlation site has the covers of the Japanese collections at what I presume are appropriate points, so I can guess that I am up through volume 7, which is about as far as the anime goes. Spoiler: lots of sophonts die messily.

New internet continues to deliver packets promptly and reliably!

Today is also a day for petting cats.

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20 July 2013 - Saturday

Today, people were not flat, so we had fresh blackberries and French toast brunch and Dominion and Costco and fish dinner. We tried to have gaming store but were thwarted by the impossibility of Ja Baby.

  • Steins;Gate 13: It's so much easier to come up with ideas when you're the audience than when you're the one watching your loved ones get murdered over and over.
  • Cross Game 14-15: Even though he's an antagonist, more people should be like Azuma wrt tyrannical overlords. (Easy for me to say.)
  • Persona4 12: I guess that's that!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 3: They really do seem to be hurrying to get all the stuff from the previous series out of the way, which does not instill confidence that what they're trying to get to will be well-done.
  • Steins;Gate 14: I was wondering when they were going to tie those plot threads back in!

Still not going to bed early, but at least I have cats to cuddle.

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19 July 2013 - Friday

I skived off work early to have lunch with Ambar, who is not dead and likes her current job very much because there are very few idiots. Her office is directly across the street from where we had lunch in downtown PA, so she gave me the very minimal tour, and it seems pretty nice. They have much better cubes than we do, anyway.

Then I went home to wait for Comcast to show up and connect my new Internets. The tech showed up right in the middle of the two-hour window, was fast and efficient, and knew how to configure my equipment as well as Comcast's, so I am favorably impressed so far. I'm sure Comcast will eventually betray me, for such is the nature of corporations, but for the time being I am filled with goodwill toward them. My new Internets are fast (yay) and so far have not crapped out even once (YAY!).

Ironskin (Tina Connolly) is set in an alternate past England in which the Great War was not against Germany but against the fey (who mysteriously vanished and will totally not ever be a problem again), leaving many people scarred with curses and the fey-based economy in tatters. This is an excellent environment in which to become the governess of the strange child of a mysterious rural nobleman.

I reread Whispers Under Ground (Ben Aaronovitch), because I could, but the next one is not out until February. Bah!

Avalon makes me go augh.

Cats do not make me go augh very much.

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18 July 2013 - Thursday

I am still zombielike from Monday night. Gblargh.

Maybe going to bed earlier would help, but I don't think I'll ever find out.

Domino Falls (Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due) is the sequel to Devil's Wake, in which we find out stuff about the zombies that was already fairly apparent to the genre-savvy reader.

Twelve paws!

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17 July 2013 - Wednesday

No Earthdawn, since Ken is dead from work and children.

Having had enough of the blinking orange "no internets for YOU" light, I ordered a cable modem and arranged for Comcast to hook me up on Friday. We will see if I come to regret this.

The Warrior Who Carried Life (Geoff Ryman) is more mythic than I expected from the beginning, which was only legendary. For reasons that are not clear to me, I had been braced for it to be emotionally gruelling, but it wasn't so much.

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16 July 2013 - Tuesday

I slept for a few hours in the morning and then worked from home, which is slightly more productive than not working, although not much. Fortunately I have a featureless black slab that bridges wifi to 3G, so I can do work without having to deal with my increasingly frustrating DSL.

Wicked Bronze Ambitions is the 96343rd of Glen Cook's Garrett books, and continues the trend of Garrett growing up and becoming a productive member of society that the last book started. I enjoyed it okay, but I think the series needs something else new, or maybe just a conclusion.

Cook must be about a zillion years old by now. Or at least nearing 70.

Instead of going to bed early, I went to Avalon's virtual birthday party and did work and stayed up too late.

Twelve paws!

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15 July 2013 - Monday

Today is the day of suffering. I talked to Ambar's company, who probably therefore hate me now, and then did an upgrade for a customer site that took from 17:00 until 5:00. Ow, my brain.

Hard Magic (Larry Correia) is set in an alternate 1930s in which people started manifesting magic powers in the mid-1800s. Most people only get one specific power, so it's more like a supers setting at first, but we learn more later. Naturally, there is Teslatronics.

I thought Linda Nagata had quit writing, but then Earl turned me on to The Red: First Light. It is not at all like Rule 34 (Charles Stross) except it kind of is. Or maybe it is early cyberpunk, when people haven't quite given up on non-corporate organizations, and computers are only starting to be implanted.

No, kitties, you cannot help with this customer upgrade!

Ow! by marith (Thu Jul 18 13:29:40 2013)

That sounds completely horrible! Did you get to take the next day off, or at least sleep late?

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14 July 2013 - Sunday

Today there is no gaming because too many people are working or dead. There is only Zuul cat-petting.

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13 July 2013 - Saturday

Instead of having brunch with friends (and being in the way and doing the wrong thing), I stayed home and did laundry and went "blblblblblblbl".

Bunny Drop (Yumi Unita) volume 8 makes me think, "How does that mechanism work in humans? Does it even actually work, or do people just pretend it does?"

Conservations of Shadows (Yoon Ha Lee) is a collection of strange and imaginative short stories that remind me a bit of Hitherby's work. Most of them are fantasy; several of them are space-going fantasy, which is something we don't see much of. I don't necessarily understand them, especially the quantum warfare one, but what I understand is awesome, if sometimes tragic.

Constellation Games (Leonard Richardson) is a story of first contact, post-scarcity non-hierarchical society, and reviews of alien videogames. The videogames are in fact pretty alien, which is good because translation makes the aliens seem fairly human (but not as stupid or crazy as actual humans).

  • Hanasaku Iroha 25-26: It is entirely appropriate that the end is optimistic but has a lot of hard work ahead of the characters, since this show is all about the value of hard work (and festing it up).
  • Cross Game 13: It's not sports anime without secret training!
  • Persona4 10-11: I think we've now been introduced to everyone in the opening credits, although Boy Detective still has to get his Persona. Then, the real doom can start!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 1-2: All the backstory that the original series made us wait dozens of episodes for is there in the first two episodes.

I think I oppressed Aspen too much, because she now hops out of the Basket of Warmth and hides when I get too close. Or maybe it's just that the basket isn't as appealing during the summer.

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12 July 2013 - Friday

Yay, it's Friday!

Eight Million Gods (Wen Spencer) is crazed expatriate American fanficcers vs Japanese mythology, only with more doom. It may constitute cultural appropriation, but who doesn't want to read about heroic anime fans saving the world?

The Kassa Gambit (M C Planck) is just not very good. It's not original, the science bits could have been left out so the reader wouldn't know how wrong they are, and the internal lives of the characters are all told, not shown.

Twelve paws!

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11 July 2013 - Thursday

Blah, customers.

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter seem like a strange writing team, but The Long Earth and The Long War are reasonable books, not as good as Pratchett as his peak but not as bad as Baxter. The idea of alternate Earths empty of natives who might complain about being colonized isn't new, but I don't think I've seen any where access was quite that easy, and the consequences of that are explored reasonably. There is both interdimensional adventure and social consequence, although I'm not sure about Lobsang.

Trafalgar (Angélica Gorodischer) is authentic South American Magic Realism, despite being sort of nominally SF. The title character has a spaceship, but when he returns to modern Argentina to tell people about his travels, no one finds this odd, and the places he visits are more like philosophical thought experiments than alien planets. (Like all the best philosophical thought experiements, they have attractive young women who put out.)

Twelve paws!

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10 July 2013 - Wednesday

Humans still insist that I provide services in exchange for receiving money. This arrangment seems fundamentally flawed.

I tried going over to Monkeycat Towers to play Earthdawn, but I was still in the way and doing the wrong things. Our characters also did the wrong things (like nearly scuttle the ship), but at least they had the excuse of being betrayed by the dice. When the dice did not betray them, they figured out that the mysterious crew attrition was due to the heteronormative mind powers of nagas and executed a cunning plan which has led to Tom being hypnotized by a naga while everyone else looks on helplessly, waiting for their initiative number to come up.

Another day when several books came to an end.

Elfland (Freda Warrington) suffers from goofy made-up names, but is otherwise reasonably faerietastic. Possibly even numinous.

Neptune's Brood (Charles Stross) is set in the same universe as Saturn's Children, thousands of years later. The financial structures of interstellar capitalism play a critical part in the plot, but not a praiseworthy one.

Neil Gaiman's latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is mostly told from the point of view of a young child, but is probably not actually suitable for children, being weird and creepy and dark.

Book Girl and the Famished Spirit (Mizuki Nomura) is the second in the series that started with Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime. Like the first book, it has one fantastic element, the story-eating girl, and then a whole bunch of melodramatic human self-destructive craziness.

Twelve pawses!

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9 July 2013 - Tuesday

Blah, work. Bleah.

Here are your books, library! Please do not send the ninjas after me!

Here is your food, cats! Please do not eat me in the night!

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8 July 2013 - Monday

Not only is it Monday, but this work week is probably going to last more then two days. How has my life come to this?

Some people have strange and complicated lives.

This cat, however, has a fairly simple and opaque life.

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7 July 2013 - Sunday

Today I went grocery shopping, but that is about the extent of my utility. Mostly, I read webcomics. And petted cats.

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6 July 2013 - Saturday

The cats are okay, but they are completely out of food, so it is good I did not stay away another day!

What did I learn from my expedition, other than to leave the cats more food? Mostly that even when my hosts are super-nice, as is usually the case, I am always in the way and doing the wrong thing and making trouble for everyone, so I should probably stay home and never visit anyone ever again.

Alien Diplomacy (Gini Koch) is the last one of these that the library had, so perhaps I am safe now.

Nobody thinks that but you! by marith (Thu Jul 11 07:22:14 2013)

Well, okay, the cats probably agree with the bit about coming home to feed them. But nobody thinks you are troublemaking or in the way or doing the wrong thing, and all your friends want you to visit them.

I don't know what interaction from last weekend is bothering you, but it really is a normal human thing to accidentally be in someone's way or make mistakes sometimes. (At least I hope so, given how clumsy and oblivious I often am!)

Re: Nobody thinks that but you! by Trip (Thu Jul 11 08:33:16 2013)

No, actually, people do think that. I found out by asking.

Re: Nobody thinks that but you! by marith (Thu Jul 11 09:44:59 2013)

Who said that? I will send lizards to bite their noses!

Re: Nobody thinks that but you! by Trip (Thu Jul 11 10:08:12 2013)

Nope, no nosebiting!

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5 July 2013 - Friday


No D&D today, since Al has taken many days off recently and feels compelled to put in some work. However, Josh likes board games, so we played Dominion with Hinterlands and Cornucopia and later Search for the Emperor's Treasure (in fact, so much later that it had to be called on account of sleepiness and became a three-way tie). He seemed to think that was an okay way to spend a birthday.

Also, there was swimming, or at least floating. I'm surprised I don't float better.

I will be back soon, cats!

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4 July 2013 - Thursday

Happy explosion day!

Today we managed to game! Someone (whose name may begin with a K) persuaded Al to run more of his long-idle D&D 3.5 Ptolus game. Since we hadn't played for like four years, and were too stupid to read the writeup of the last session, we had to flail around a lot to remember that the PCs had backed away from the minotaur-infested frozen pit beneath the haunted abandoned brothel, planning to return later with spells refreshed.

Our Heroes do return, although accompanied by a crazy rat lady who wants to scavenge some stuff from the haunted abandoned brothel and won't go away. The cheerfully self-destructive minotaur Chaos cultists are annoying and rant about the coming "Night of Dissolution" when all Law will be swept away, but James and Johann beat them down while sustaining only non-fatal wounds. From their brands and ritual scars and whatnot, it seems that they belonged to the Chaos cult that other cultists want to join when they grow up. There is a book conveniently frozen into the ice with them that may explain more, but Raul absconds with it.

Behind the ice is a pool that is really one end of a tunnel of very cold water that leads to a room full of ice-covered treasure chests. Fortunately Karl and Nora brought enough cold resistance for everyone who isn't conspicuously macho. (The crazy rat lady had her own spells.) While people are admiring the Chaos cultist doggerel on the chests and speculating what might be in them, something starts pounding on the large solid iron door out of the room. When the door starts visibly deforming, however, Johann chops open as many of the chests as he can before the giant mechanical dragon stars peeling away the door, and everyone skedaddles back through the tunnel. Apparently the thing behind the door is not a giant mechanical white dragon, because it does not follow them. Presumably it is guarding the one remaining treasure, which was the one with the strongest magic.

(Level UP! For clerics and wizards, 5th level means third-level spells and not much else, but that's okay. Third-level spells are nifty.)

One of the items retrieved from the icy chests is a key that seems to change its shape while one watches, which is in fact Niviril's Nineteenth Key and opens Karl's ancestral box. Inside is a sealed book, an unsealed book full of notes on Shadow ("to find a Shadow object, find what is casting the shadow"), two daggers, a pair of spectacles, and a vial of black vapor. The spectacles apparently detect Shadow, since the vial glows brilliantly through them, and the daggers are described as being able to touch Shadow. The sealed book is magical, but of unclear purpose.

The Chaos cult under the H.A.B. is generally agreed to be bad news and in need of high-level stomping, so the next day Karl and James presume on Nora's family connections and the three of them go to see one of the Knights of the Pale, the paladin group that raided the H.A.B. originally. Being the stereotypical paladin with rectally-mounted dowelling, he grumps about unsanctified amateurs stirring up sleeping evils, and finally realizes that Karl is someone paladins Do Not Approve Of and throws them out. But, in Ptolus, that is about as close to notifying the duly-constituted authorities as it gets, so their civic duty is discharged.

On the way back, the three visitors to the Pale are accosted by a creepy person with yellow-green skin and wings of shadow, who claims that they have some stuff that belongs to him and his friends, stolen without provocation from their secret clubhouse, and he would like it back Or Else. Since they don't have it on them, he agrees to meet them the following evening at the same spot to reclaim his Chaos-tainted belongings. It is not clear whether this is the same shadowy presence that was lurking outside the H.A.B. earlier.

Meanwhile, back at the laboratory, Raul has been analyzing those very same items. Mostly they are +1 weapons that do extra damage against Law: a little above Our Heroes' level, but not ridiculously powerful artifacts out of legend. However, when Raul examines Karl's sealed book, he blacks out and wakes up in a place that looks just like his lab but shadowy and immaterial, and containing shadowy people looking around going, "What happened to Raul?" plus one person who looked like Erika but with a different shadowy person overlapping her. With Karl's new spectacles and use of the Charades skill, contact is made with Raul, who eventually escapes the plane of Shadow, but no one knows what is up with Erika's shadow-self. She's just creepy.

With a little more, more careful, investigation, it is determined that the book contains a sentient copy of the Shadow Walk spell, which wants to crawl into someone's head and make them cast it as it sees fit. Not even Karl is up for this.

Our Heroes have about 24 hours to figure out what to do when Greenface Guy and all his buddies come to get their stuff back.

Oh, here's the list of previous Ptolus sessions:

Ja Baby can swim! She has to have two foam noodles tucked under her arms for extra buoyancy, but she can swim all the way around the pool, including the deep end, without having to touch down. Hurray Ja Baby!

The cats are probably still okay, though cruelly deprived of gooshyfood.

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3 July 2013 - Wednesday

I rode up to Roseville with Ken and Dave and Ja Baby, while Ayse and Marith and Ta Baby came up separately. (This time, Ja Baby was not excessively horrible on the drive, despite still being three.) Because we left early, we made it expeditiously despite taking the longer route through Windmill City. The other car left after Ta Baby slept some more, which meant they had ugly traffic.

Roseville is still where we left it, which is to say about six inches from the surface of the sun. However, there is still air conditioning inside and a pool outside, so everyone there is doing well. Yay!

Also, immense Chinese food.

Games played today: Pirate Fluxx. The rule of Fluxx has always been that we say "Arrrr!".

I am sure the cats are doing well.

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2 July 2013 - Tuesday

It's Tuesday, but also Friday! Yay!

Now, it is time for laundry.

You will be fine, cats, right?

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1 July 2013 - Monday

It's Monday, but I have Wed-Fri off (because no one stopped me), so it's also like Thursday!

Alien Proliferation (Gini Koch) is just as goofy as the previous ones, yet I keep reading.

Instead of doing laundry, I hung out with Avalon. And fought with my Internet, which doesn't like the heat either.

Twelve opaque paws!

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