What They Are Made Of

Pro sports may not be the most important endeavor we engage in, but it has its purpose. Besides giving strangers something to argue about without anyone getting actually angry, it offers some moral lessons. Teamwork, sportmanship, effort, preparation, all the things we value in productive citizens on display in coloring-book clarity by millionaires running around in shorts.

I speak, of course, of my Beloved Suns, who are demonstrating for the world what they are made of this week.

Let me catch you up on what’s been happening with my Beloved Suns over the past 50+ years.

Beloved millionaires in shorts
Robertson is lower right. You know who 33 is.

The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukie Bucks both entered the NBA in 1968 as expansion teams. Both have had two finals appearances since then. The Bucks are 1-1, winning it all in 1971 thanks to a dominant center (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) they took with their #1 pick (after winning a coin toss with Phoenix for it) (The league was very different in the 70’s) and trading for a legendary point guard (Oscar Robertson).

Robertson was also head of the NBA Player’s Association at the time.

They returned in 1974 to push the Celtics to 7 games including a double OT. The Celtics prevailed, wearing the Bucks out in game 7.  Notable on that Boston team: a young guard named Paul Westphal.

The Bucks have not been to the Finals since – until now.

Phoenix, meanwhile, made an improbable appearance in 1976. The Suns, led by rookie of the year Alvan Adams and a hot-shooting Paul Westphal upset both the Seattle Supersonics and the defending champion Golden state warriors to face the basically same Hondo/Cowens Celtics – who beat them in 6 games including he 3OT Game 5 – which Suns fans forget they actually lost.

Paul Westphal

I was 9 years old and even I noticed how thew small city of Phoenix had shut down for a week during these finals.

Joe Proski, the Suns’ longtime trainer, told me that the best chance the Suns ever had at a championship was in 1979, when they lost the Western Conference Finals in 7 games to the Sonics. The Suns, who had added Walter Davis, lost the last two games in that series by a total of 5 points. The Sonics went on the beat the injury-riddled Bullets in 5 games.

The Suns would appear in the Western Conference Finals 10 years later with Tom Chambers and KJ and the Cotton Express. They traded half their starters for Charles Barkley, and that team, led by rookie head coach Paul Westphal,  made the finals, even winning their 3OT game, but lost to Jordans Bulls in 6 games.

Phoenix felt like Metropolis after Superman died.

Charels Barkley after Superman died.

The Nash-era, 7 seconds-or-less Suns made three appearances in the Western Conference Finals, but never won out.  They had the best offense in the league, but never had the defense or the rebounding to beat the best teams 4 out of 7.

Eleven years after that, here we are: the Suns are back in the finals with a veteran and legendary point guard (who is also head of the NBA Player’s Association) and a #1 draft pick center who is not as dominating as Jabbar was but is getting it done over and around league MVP’s.  

And My Beloved Suns are one more Milwaukie defensive collapse from overtaking the Warrior’s record for most productive back-court in the Finals.

We’ll see. I don’t think Milwaukie can be swept. But I thought Game 2 would be much closer than it was.

While we wait for game 3 some more thoughts about what we are made of:

At Fantastical History we explore weight ratios of golems.

And more solemly, at Are We Lost Yet we remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots as we visit that memorial.

How persistence might bend the Skill to Luck Ratio

Taliesin’s Last Apprentice comes out next November. Unobtanium Bazar has achieved a preliminary goal of becoming lucrative enough to pose a tax concern.  My Beloved Suns are bound for the playoffs.  I am actually on pace with external and internal deadlines for Go Action Fun Time.  It’s almost enough to make you believe in hard work and persistence.

https://www.nba.com/suns/were-back# “Which way do we go to get to the Playoffs?”

Teams that consider themselves contenders do not worry about who they play in the first round.

If you follow the NBA, you already know the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers have had their two big stars benched most of the season due to injuries, and have barely qualified for the playoffs. In fact, they have to win a play-in game Wednesday against Golden State for the right to face the #2 seed – My Beloved Suns.

This has caused wailing among the partisans, for after 11 years out of the play-offs we had nearly forgotten how to hope. At the beginning of the season, the Lakers were figured to finish no worse than #2, and we were pencilled to possibly win a play-in game. In reality, those fortunes are reversed – but not our advantage, the reasoning goes, because now we face the full strength Lebron-era Lakers in round one. There might no be a round two.

Now, put aside the fact that if any lower seed can beat the Lakers in one high-stakes game, it’s Golden State. If the Lakers come through the door first, I am not worried about Lebron James or Anthony Davis dunking at will. The Suns are actually a match for them offensively.

https://www.lineups.com/nba/team-rankings

The Lakers have one of the best defenses in the league, and rebound well, which is how they stayed in contention. The Suns defend well (5th-8th best in the NBA depending on what metric you use) and rebound decently. So if you need to worry about something, worry about D’Andre Ayton trying to box out Anthony Davis. If Ayton can at least hold his own, and he has the tools to do that, the Suns will be OK.

My Beloved Suns are one of the few teams enjoying a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense. Of course, so do the Jazz, Clippers, Sixers, Nets and Nuggets. Those are your contenders.

Among them, it will come down to who wants it the most, and who gets that little bit of luck at the right time.

Ball sports are compelling because that ratio of skill to luck is actually the exception in human endeavors.

Capitalism is like solitaire, in that there is a little bit of skill to it, but it is, in the sober daylight, mostly luck.

I play a lot of solitaire on my laptop[s] because it requires sufficient concentration to be distracting, but I can also end it abruptly without consequence when the firmware is updated, or the client finally calls me back with an answer.  The Random Salad version I run on my home machine has Vegas rules which is a cumulative score, but you can only go three times through the deck.

Now the math: there’s a $50 buy-in per hand. A full win pays like $250. My winning percentage stands at 11%. So if you need to win every five hands to break even, but you realistically only win once every 10 hands, this is a losing formula, right?

So I give myself $500 or about 10 hands if I fail to score with any of them.  (I can’t do this in the software, I just have to keep track). If I go below -$500, I lose and have to clear the stats and start over. If I clear over $1000 I declare that I am not going to go broke after that, and also clear the stats.

I lose about 30% of the time – which is the first year failure rate for small businesses. I’ve played easily a thousand games, and my win rate persists at 11%. I’ve maxed out the skill bonus. What makes the difference is the persistence to wait out the bad luck and pounce upon the good fortune.

Now, news:

Go Action Fun Time will resume at my house or by Discord next Tuesday, May 18, 2021 when we will Alpha Test “Dungeon of Darkest Doom”. Meaning I will at least dry run random Sample Cast characters through it, whether any of you show up or not.

I have completed the edits for Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond. It has a tentative November 2021 release date.

This is a big image because I am announcing a release date.
My version of a Sea Devil

UnObtanium Bazaar has some indoor appearances in August, and some outdoor appearances in September, which we will announce when everything is 100%.

Over on Fantastical History I muse about Sea Devils, or Sahaugin, or Makara, or… its murky.

Over on Are We Lost Yet? We hike up West Pinto Creek in the eastern Superstitions.

Bongo on West Pinto Trail

Now we know.

A few quick lessons from real numbers

First: Go Action Fun Time next Tuesday May 4, 2021. It will be weird, but it will have nothing to do with Star Wars. I will post Discord and Owlbear info in this space when I know them, and we are close enough that they will not expire.

Now traffic:

Given the amount I drive, and how little of that driving occurs under the speed limit, it is amazing that I am not an expert regarding the ins and outs of traffic court. But, as reality plays out, I have not had a ticket since 2001, when paying over the phone wa weird, and paper checks were still sort of normal.

If, hypothetically, you were to receive a traffic citation in Yuma County AZ, [see last post] it is cheaper and easier just to pay the ticket than to try a go to traffic school. Let’s say, for discussion, the cost of just paying the ticket was given by the AZ Highway Patrol as $247.

But according to one of the hundreds of traffic schools, this would be the cost of taking the class:

Calculate Total Cost

Violation DateBefore 04/01/21As of 04/01/21
Course Fee$27.95$27.95
Processing Fee$10.00$10.00
State Fee$24.00$24.00*
State Surcharge$45.00$45.00
Court Fee$160.00$160.00
Total Cost$266.95$266.95

The only advantage to going through this exercise is to keep the points off of your license.

If you’re in your fifties, and haven’t had a ticket in 20 years, as I have, there is no effect on your insurance rates.

So I paid the bastards, or rather their 3rd party internet service, and felt shame.

Now, business:

Pirates rarely got rich.

For UnObtanium Bazaar, the Las Vegas Pirate Fest represented a best case scenario for gauging the economics of vending. We had reasonable fees (Cheryl is local to Las Vegas), and a huge gate and, as it turns out, a great location across from the turkey legs.

So we did well. We made more money on the Saturday than we had made in the entirety of any previous festival.

Even so, our gross for the weekend was still well under my bi-weekly salary check. So we aren’t about to quit our jobs for this.

That said, our worst case scenario, being London Bridge Renn Faire (Small market over Easter weekend during a heatwave) still made us some money.

So the hobby reliably pays for itself and a little more. Good enough.

Proposed artwork – but damn!

I actually have some editorial deadlines.

I have until May to finish my editorial review of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice – the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond.

It has a tentative release date of November.

I am also under deadline for a Tooth and Talon sequel that will really serve as a monster manual for Go Action Fun Time.  That is words and art.

So I gotta go.

If you need something more to learn from the interwebs, I have been enjoying Our Fake History.

Now we know.

Some scattered notes between festivals

Some short doses of things we have learned over the past couple of weeks, mostly without context. But first, we are between events. So…

UnObtanium Bazaar will be at the Las Vegas Pirate Fest this weekend!

And Cheryl will be dancing with Shifting Sands.

Feb 29, 2020; Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit it: I groaned when My Beloved Suns traded Ricky Rubio for Chris Paul. After all, in the shortened 2020 season Rubio was averaging more assists than Paul (who then playing for the Thunder) while scoring only 3 fewer PPG on a Suns team that really didn’t need him to score anymore.  And they went 8-0 in the Bubble with Rubio running the point.

The difference is defense and a culture of defense. Rubio is a good defender, but not the legend that Chris Paul is (6 time steals leader, 9 time All-Defensive team).  And while Rubio was an established veteran who had won championships in Europe, he did not have the credibility or personality to herd a bunch of young wildcats into playing team defense.

Chris Paul is on those boys All The Time, and they are responding.  Sometimes I wonder if Monty Williams’s true role is to attend meeting with management and do the paperwork.

You still feel for Rubio – who was doing a good job, and looking forward to a near-certain playoff run with the Suns this year, instead of maybe playing into the playoffs with his final destination, the Minnesota Timberwolves. But then I reflect that he’s still a millionaire, and the Suns are legit contenders now.

The little mountain range that separates Yuma from the rest of the damn desert is called the Fortuna Foothills. The Border Patrol no longer regularly operates the checkpoint going east into the pass, but it has become a favorite haunt of the Arizona Highway Patrol.

The speed limit on the winding, splitting I-8 through that portion is 55. Not 65.

Just east of the pass there is a safety pull-out and the Az state trooper will be happy to follow you into it, if, for some reason, you are pulled over coming down the pass.

Sometimes its good to be 54, with papers in order.

There are a ridiculous number of online traffic schools listed with azdrive.com.

I got my first vaccination shot. The day after, I came down with what passes – for me- as COVID symptoms: achy with no temperature, but likely elevated blood pressure. (I did not check). This might have been compounded by my thinking “Nah, my arm doesn’t hurt enough to stop me from finishing this yard work”.  Two hours later I’m putting away the tools because it has become clear I will not have the energy to do anything else. I was laid up the rest of the day.

I have to bury that story in my blog instead of telling it on Facebook, because I don’t want to hear about from the crazies. Two days after the shot, I was able to go to work, and the only pain I have is clearly from yardwork.

Over on Are We Lost Yet?, I learned how steep Picacho Peak really is.

After next weekend, I do not have a scheduled author or UnObtanium event until July. You know what that means…

Go Action Fun Time! Every other week.

Also, I am officially in the editing phase of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to the Beanstalk and Beyond) and we are hoping for a November release date.

Now we know.

Capturing a person in writing is as much a problem of format as philosophy

My stand-in for layout.

How do you define a human being: their traits, their personality what they want, what they need? How do you define them to the point where you might reasonably guess what they do next?

It gets worse: How do you codify such a definition in writing, so that people can read and understand it quickly?

People who are not you?

This has tormented writers for centuries and gamers for decades, and now it torments me. But first we have some announcements:

From our last appearance.

The UnObtanium Bazaar will appear at the London Bridge Renaissance Faire this very weekend.

That’s in Lake Havasu City, right on the river between I-10 and I-40.  I expect to have new (and signed) copies of both Beanstalk and Beyond and Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules for sale along with our bewildering assortment of other treasures out of time.

The Leprecon gaming went well, for what it was. The trick to doing these sort of things on Zoom is to remember you can other programs open at the same time, like Owlbear Rodeo, and by switching back and forth you can see player faces, or the game map, as you need.

I also learned, because somebody shared their screen, that it is possible to have 40+ tabs open in your browser. It’s not efficient, and we’ll make sport of it, but it is possible.

And I am never serving as head of anything for the local cons again. I’ll participate, moderate, or vend, but if I have to sit through a meeting, don’t even ask me.

Before I go off the deep end about character sheets, let me update you on my previous obsession in this space. I did indeed have to move the hot tub outside. It took 1200# pounds of additional sand and a length of wire rope. I plan to soak in it before the night’s end.

Also, I have a fillable PDF version of the Go Action Fun Time Cast treatment.

This took me a week.  Some of this delay was the philosophical problem of distilling a human being into written form. In all honesty, though, I’ve had a system for that for some time. The problem is that nobody else will understand it.

For a role-playing character, I have to take that base information about a person, layer over it with game stats, and then render it in some way that people who are not me can understand it.

Even made-up people are complicated

I learned long ago that forms that make perfect sense to me baffle anyone else. Even so, at some point you have to stop second guessing yourself and do it.

Then you discover that Word is terrible for this application.  I had to do most of it as text boxes – because they will stay where I put them – sort of.  Regular text re-distributes itself every time you hit the space bar.

I played with Canva, the layout program I used to format my cover. This worked much better in terms of putting boxes and shapes where I wanted them. But it doesn’t do tables, and I need tables.

But it exports to PDF, as does Word, and you can mostly copy and paste tables around in Acrobat Distiller (which I pay for monthly), as long as you don’t want to change them.

And the more I gazed upon my share-ware graphics from Canva, the more I hated them. So I ditched that whole approach.

Inkscape actually turned out the better tool for graphics, and also imports/exports into PDF.  I had abandoned it as my means of lettering webcomics. (This was a thing).  But once you update it to this decade it works well for graphics. That would have been my answer, except for fillable forms.

Inkscape graphics (as I used them) distorted the tables by the time they were sent back to PDF and thereby gummed up the Prepare Form function of Distiller. When you have as many text boxes as I do (Skills, Stuff and History of Play are all 5×12+ tables) it is out of the question to do all of them manually.

And we ended up back in Word…

Friends, I ended up back in Word with text boxes everywhere because Word does tables with reasonable rigor, and exports to PDF with a minimum of surprises.  Word Art isn’t anywhere near as cool as what can be done in Inkscape, but this is a character sheet. A little décor catches the eye, but too much makes the thing hard to read.

Prepare Form got 80% of my empty boxes, and you can get a box to add or average other boxes if you want to take the time. It’s not Excel. It will not do complicated Excel things like, say, subtraction, but I can wring some convenience out of it.

Distiller won’t, for some reason import graphics, even though it has tools to do that right on the bar. What it really does is make the buffering circle spin long enough for you to refresh your drink before announcing it cannot import this file type. What file type? Any of them. So I have to do that in Word before I import it.

How players  – who would presumably only have the PDF, will do that I cannot as yet say.

But if you can live with that limitation, the Go Action Fun Time Cast Treatment PDF is ready.

I also have a regular, blank PDF you could print out and fill in by hand if you are an old school gamer, but those guys are all playing D&D clones.

I can’t sell these things. Sites like Drive-thru RPG flatten PDF’s with a broad hammer, and none of that formatting would survive. But you can have one for the low price of getting pasted into my email list.

I was trying for a two page document. It ended up being seven.

Now we know.

Gaming at Leprecon 47

Because I can’t wait for them to fix the actual website, here are the need-to-know facts about gaming at Leprecon this comig weekend.

Gaming at Leprecon 47

Welcome seekers of adventure. We feature four concurrent role-playing games, each very different, for your enjoyment.

All games are one-shots, meaning we intend to start and finish this very session. 

All games will have pre-generated characters provided, so we can jump right in.

Our virtual game room opens at 4:15 pm on Sunday, March 21st. All are welcome to join one of several RPG’s conducted over our Zoom channel.

To join you must:

  • Become a member of the convention (free!) Start here!
  • Choose a game Listed below.
  • Email the GM from the email address you want to use to send and receive PDF documents.
  • Pre-generated characters and other game documents come as PDF’s. [Adobe Acrobat]
  • Choose your character (first chosen – first got).
  • Join the Zoom meeting at 4:15 pm on Sunday.

All of our games are intended for general audiences and geared towards novice players.

Session A – How the West was Shot to Hell

An Episode of Go Action Fun Time

Tony Padegimas

TPadegimas@LepreCon.org

A road race through the post-apocalyptic wasteland that was once the western US, but is now ravaged by beserk weather, vicious bandits, killer robots, soulless zombies and the horrifying consequences of aliens who “meant well”. 

Go Action Fun Time is a role-playing game recreating action/adventure science-fantasy cartoon shows.

Teen-age superheroes from across time and space have been thrown together as a team (in theory) to compete in a reality game show produced by chaotic and perhaps insane gods. These heroes now travel randomly through time, pursuing strange and crazy challenges given to them by the Producers, and perhaps righting wrongs along the way.

The adventure is designed to be run start-to-finish in 3-4 hours. Pre-made characters are available.

Every participant will receive a free PDF copy of the Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules.

Session B –  Leprechauns Stole My Baby

Jason Youngdale

JasonaYoungdale@gmail.com

You are a kobold just trying to get by in the world. You have a great family and sweet loot gathered up over the years. There is always the threat of pesky adventurers raiding the dungeon you live in, but now there is a new threat,  Leprechauns!

Those punks stole some of your loot and your Kobold baby! Kobolds are the ones supposed to be stealing babies! It is time to gather your mediocre kobold friends and attack! Prizes awarded to the team if they survive.

Pre-generated characters provided.  No RPG experience necessary.

System Used: Kobolds Ate My Baby! (latest edition)

Number of Players: 3-5

Session C – Lochy’s Charms

Matt Ralston

dndralston@gmail.com

Good King Lochlainn O’Shenanigans has had a terrible turn of luck, his collection of charms has been stolen. Word has spread that the king is looking for brave adventurers to retrieve his most prized possessions. Any one who succeeds will be rewarded with gold, fame, and most importantly one favor from the king. The journey is sure to be wrought with dastardly traps, and perilous beasts. If you think you have the fortitude to take on such a challenge the king will be holding a ceremony on the 21st day of March. Come and receive a blessing of good luck before you set out to find Lochy’s Charms.

Pre-gen characters (halfling adventurers) provided. 

Number of Players: 3-6

System Used: Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

Session D – Terrorform – Survive the Dark

Russ Jordan II

RussellJordanII@ArgonautsIncorporated.Onmicrosoft.com

Welcome to the future!

Corporations have replaced governments.

The solar system (SolSys1) has been invaded

twice, leaving Earth’s environment

hazardous and livable space a luxury.

People are clustered throughout the system

in domes, orbiting stations, and on

vessels. Adventurers and investors alike

are looking for a world to terraform.

Somewhere between the dangers in the

dark, there is paydirt to be had.

This LepreCon,

survive the dark….

4-7 players. Pre-generated characters provided.

System: Terrorform RPG

Presently we are working on our resource book short version for a game review, so we do not have any game rules to hand out.

What the players need to play will be on their basic character sheets. The initial part of the Session I will provide a quick Q&A about the world, play tips, rules, and expected Zoom etiquette for the play session.

Argonauts Incorporated

www.ArgonautsIncorporated.com

A scattering of opportunities

We’ll go by looming deadline:

I am the gaming coordinator for Leprecon 47 – a virtual convention happening March 20-21. My end of it is at the end, starting 5pm on March 21.

To whit:

I am still seeking game-masters to run one-shots over Zoom with players who would not reliably have copies of said game in hand. This creates some challenges I’ll cover later. Right now, if you want to be one of these brave masters, contact me at my convention address: tpadegimas@leprecon.org

If you just want to play:

Player Recruitment Blurb:

Our virtual game room opens at 5pm on Sunday, March 21st. All are welcome to join one of several RPG’s conducted over our Zoom channel.

To join you must:

  • Become a member of the convention (free!) [link]
  • Choose a game. [link]
  • Email the GM from the email address you want to use to send and receive PDF documents. 
    • Pre-generated characters and other game documents come as PDF’s. [acrobat link]
  • Choose your character (first chosen – first got).
  • Join the Zoom meeting at 5pm on Sunday. 

All of our games are intended for general audiences and geared towards novice players. 

This is not approved verbage (the place-holders for links give that away). But knowing how this works, I am three days away from the full stop of asking permission and just doing what needs to be done.

As the blurb indicates, the ony way to manage this across all common platforms is to all sign up on RollD20 exchange emails and traffic in PDF files.

It’s 2021. Figure out PDF files.

This one is mine!

I am already down to six Executive Producer comp copies of Go Action Fun Time (See last post). But I will still get them to you on those same terms. Hand-delivered in the Phoenix Metro area – as long as you can wait until I’m in the neighborhood. (I drive 100 miles a day for my day job. This will happen.)

Pushing it at real cons has slowly paid off it seems.

Congruently, in investigating strategies for running RPG’s over Zoom (the format imposed upon me), I came across RollD20 – which may make me the last player to find it. It is now a firm part of the marketing-strategy-in-my-head that GAFT gets incorporated into this format and any other similar formats we find reasonable. This effort will likely be the subject of future updates.

Unobtanium Bazaar is still doing all those things we announced last post. (no link -scroll down).

Ford Canyon Trail

I finally updated Are We Lost Yet with a hike I took over the weekend, and remain sore from.

I learned that I have, comfortably, an eight mile hiking range through mountainous terrain. The route I took covered ten miles. So, even though I limped to the car, I have no regrets.

It took 10-12 man-hours to produce that blog article, from trailhead to the publish button, and not counting drive time.

I was hoping to announce an equal time-sinking article on integrating the Star Trek Universe with Traveller – but social obligations ate those hours, and I am past bedtime as I write this.

Even so, WORD COUNT is high:

Another chapter for the next 64 novel. 1800 words.

Writer’s Group: 500 words.

Hiking research – half-day = 1000 words.

Hike research and draft document = 750 words

Ford Canyon Blog Post = 1000 words plus photos and format = 500 words

GAFT GM Recruitment: = 500 words.

This blog = 1000 words.

TOTAL= 6500

{My goal is 5000}.

I don’t count Leprecon things.

Whiskey and bed.

Now we know.

Achieving a long-term dream tests my Buddhist resolve

I have wanted a functioning hot tub for a long time.  I have one now, and that has created some strange complications.  Most of this post will be about that. But first – some announcements:

Unobtanium Bazaar will appear in a limited form at –

And then appear in the full form at London Bridge Renaissance Fest:

AND then Las Vegas Pirate Fest – which is kind of our homecoming event:

Note the new time/space coordinates.

I have 10 8 proof copies of the Go Action Fun Time Core Rules (1E Deluxe) in my possession. There are some color errors on the cover, and I will have to correct those before I go to a larger print run.

An actual printed book!

Meanwhile, you can get one of these copies, signed, and potentially highly collectable years from now, from me, for the low-low price of convincing me that you will playtest this system as an Executive Producer (that’s what we call game masters).

I am also going to try to run some episodes over Discord every other Tuesday night.

I’d run them on weekends, but I am not reliably in town on weekends. For example, I am posting this from Las Vegas.

One more fact I learned this week that I don’t want to bury in the hot tub saga: You cannot buy a 2nd party window motor for a Subaru Forester. It has to come from Subaru, who will only sell you the full assembly for the better part of $300. A similar part for my 2001 Dodge Dakota costs between $50-70.

The New Hot Tub

I have always enjoyed hot tubs, but I became obsessed with them, at least at a background level, as my back began to lock up from arthritis. There have been some attempts to create one with humble means in the past.

This was better than standing dry in the yard, but…

One of the benefits of my current job, compared to my 25 years in live event production, is that I am not expected to load and unload trucks on a daily basis. Consequently, my back has improved.  I still feel stiff and sore from time to time, but it is no longer the daily menace it was in my final years of full-time show-biz. 

At the same time, from a change in both occupation and marital status, my disposable income has increased. Perversely, my need for a hot tub has decreased in proportion to my ability to acquire one.

If you read the last post, you know I got one anyway.

Some of the delay was the fantasy that I could resuscitate the extant hot tub on the property I now occupy. The more I looked into this, the more expensive this became. It had sat idle for some ten years before copper thieves took the wires and made it inoperable for another ten years. For the cost of replacing everything that would need to be replaced, I could install a new in-ground hot tub.

I’m doing well, but not that well, particularly since I do not actually own the property.

So, I looked into an above-ground solution, and found, to my delight, that inflatable hot tubs – which used to be a joke – are actually somewhat respectable. Someone, Coleman perhaps, figured out that if you take the same plastic they use for inflatable rafts, you can create a reasonably durable hot tub at a third of the price of a fiberglass one.

So I bought one of those for about $600 all in. So far. It took three weeks to ship.

Still this one.

Fine. I needed to fill in the old hot tub anyway. I had gravel at hand to do most of the work, and then level it off with sand to get a level surface.  Forty wheelbarrows of gavel and 22 bags of sand later, I thought I had accomplished the deed.

One project led to another, and in that process I had my garage door and my back gate open when I went inside to do some other damn thing. Thieves rushed in helped themselves to some low-hanging fruit: my bike, and some tools.  It gets worse: I took two trips to come back with all the sand, and on my second trip, the thieves, likely the same ones, discovered I had dummy locked the back gate, and helped themselves to my propane tanks and my propane firepit. They also took the lock.

This will test your Buddhist resolve to not get worked up over possessions. But I have new locks now.

The hot tub arrives, and I manage to secure it before any porch pirates come for it.

I set up my new treasure in the back yard, and there’s a problem. The Intex hot tub has to be on the same level and immediately adjacent to the heat/pump/control unit. Because there are no hoses – only ports.

But it also now occurs to me that there is nothing except a four foot fence and new locks that would prevent yard pirates from making off with the pump.

However, I currently have an empty bedroom.

And that’s where it sits, until some refugee has need for that bedroom.

There are several advantages to the indoor hot tub: cheaper to heat, simple to keep clean, controlled access. But I cannot turn away the inevitable refugee explaining that I know you have no place to go, but right now I can climb into my hot tub naked…

So the day is coming when the hot tub goes outside. The level problem can be solved with another thousand pounds of sand. I’m not sure about securing the pump, but I have time to figure that out.

Meanwhile, I enjoy the tub, but I am not yet convinced it was worth the struggle. The money – sure – it has seemed thus far a good purchase. But I feel like a found a good strategy to fight the war before last.

A grab bag of uncomfortable truths

I have some small observations to share, but first a reminder that I am still the Gaming Coordinator for Leprecon 47, and if you want to run a game – now only late Sunday afternoon – I am the guy to contact.

Also Las Vegas Pirate Fest has changed both date and venue:

May be an image of map and text that says 'PIRATE_FEST FEST IRATE Pirate, Steampunk, Faerie, Renaissance Family Friendly Festival April 17t Cg Ranch Park PirateFestLV.com'
At press-time their website had not been updated to these new coordinates

I will be there as part of UnObtanium. This means it will not be overlapping the London Bridge Ren Faire, which we will also be at. There was a plan involving time travel – but now we don’t have to…

Uncomfortable Truths in no particular order:

The team that gets the fewest DUI’s the week prior almost always wins the Superbowl.

I am not going to rehabilitate the derelict hot tub in my yard for less than the cost of a new one.

Relatedly – I am not a long-term resident at this address. (I am technically still house-sitting).

So I bought a portable hot tub with my year-end bonus.

This one.

I am walking proof that you can carry COVID without running fever.

Operation Warp Speed may be the Trump administration’s greatest achievement, and might have gotten him re-elected if he hadn’t buried it with administrative neglect of the rest of the pandemic, and compounded that with political malfeasance.

BUT-BUT-BUT

If a Democratic President had done this the Republicans would be comparing it to socialism.

The drive back and forth to Las Vegas does not improve with repetition.

The cohort that won’t wear a mask because they won’t live in fear is the same cohort that are afraid to go into a library without a gun because homeless people.

I remember now why I try to avoid serving on non-profit committees -particularly for local cons. I’d be more specific, but this is still a going concern, and I do have some sense of organizational loyalty.

You can’t convince anyone into anything long term. They have to get there themselves. Even if you martial  all of your powers of logic and charm, the decision will always be temporary. Sales-folk get away with this, because they only need the spell to last until you pay.

For anything longer term, all you can do is make your case, and hope they are ready to take that path.

This is the first thing of any length I have written in seven days.

But I’m caught up on a lot of other things.

And I have a hot tub coming.

Now we know.

Trying to pick out life events from the blur

When I first found myself living alone, I wanted most of all not to end up with a boring routine of a lifestyle.

Careful what you wish for.

There’s been some news, and I’m trying to remember it all. Let’s see… Oh yeah.

A couple of years ago, I promised Woody that if he ended ever actually chairing a Leprecon again, I would run gaming for him. I had forgotten about that promise, but he did not. So here we go.

I am the gaming chair for Leprecon 47 – a virtual convention taking place in our imagination on the internet March 19-21, 2021.

It has been decreed, without my advice or consent, that no events of this con shall conflict, so rather than filling a small meeting room with loud gamers from mid-morning until the shift change in security throws us out sometime past midnight, I have only two sessions: late afternoon Saturday and Sunday.

I am relatively certain I can run concurrent games in that window, but as I write this, I think maybe I should ask.

Anyway, if you can run a game (RPG or other) on Discord or Zoom (the con has a Zoom account – which is basically our only expense), and desire to play it with strangers, then I have an opportunity for you.  Contact me for more information.

Yes, I will be running Go Action Fun Time (even if I am the whole game room). I will run Lasers in the Jungle (which I only run at cons) (because its adapted from a module published for a completely different game) and will run the world premiere of Dungeon of Darkest Doom by Jason Youngdale.

The first follower separates a leader from a lone nut.

Hopefully, I will not be the whole of programming.

What else? Oh – Hidden Lake went well.

Is this really period? Whatever. We’re time travelers.

The mask discipline in Buckeye is comparable to Kingman, but we are all outdoors, so it’s hard to panic. Worry a little about the unmasked boomers close-talking, but not panic. I’m wearing my mask, after all. And I’ve already had it, and even if I’m re-infected, it was a three-day annoyance to me. I am fairly certain that there is a genetic profile that is only annoyed by the virus, and a genetic profile that falls over dead within days, and that I possess the former. But you, Boomer, are free to take whatever risk you feel comfortable with.

Donald Trump set his presidency on fire to ensure that freedom. (I joke here. It would be great if his reasons were anything so noble- if misguided.)

I reflect, though, that Boomers, terrified of Muslim terrorists, are the reason that the TSA has a collection of my corkscrews. OK.

Cheryl in her natural habitat.

Back to UnObtanium, I had been warned that the state sales tax would be a recurring nightmare for me, but it turns out that in COVID times, Arizona discovered the power of technology. Rather than mail my form monthly, we can file on-line. And, because we made less than $500 in 2019 (when we did not exist) we can file annually.  So, I paid my $50 or so for the Kingman event last year, online, in about 20 minutes.

A year from now, I am hoping it takes a few hours to do the same thing – and that we go over the threshold where we have to file at least quarterly.  That’s right – it is a goal to owe more tax more often, because that is a marker of success.

I am part of a civilization and I hope and work for its success. I guess that makes me a liberal.

I am old enough to remember when that would have made me conservative.

That was not what I wanted to tell you about.

Oh – Ruby Vroom (my 2015 Subaru Forester) has passed 100k miles. So, that was sudden. We’ve talked about this elsewhere.

What else? Oh – I am starting to get edits back on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice. (The sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) It’s mostly been typos. So that’s good?

In contrast, perfect has, indeed, become the enemy of done with the printed version of Go Action Fun Time. I’m comfortable with the content. I am still fussing over the (print) layout.

In particular, I am editing the illustrations to eliminate the scan errors and pencil smudges that make them look even less professional that the theme we already have.

Dopple left hanging – but waay better than the lineart.

There was one more damn thing…

AH!

Last week marked my 54th orbit around the sun. I treated myself to some Sushi, a bottle of favored whiskey, and later may order some underwear online, because I am 54.

And I need my sleep.

Photo by C Zierman

WORD COUNT:

A chapter of the second book of the 64: 1500 words.

Writer’s group: 500

Editing photos for GAFT: 2000 (I did this all day).

This blog: 1000

The original lineart

That makes 5000 – though I am cheating bit. I wrote this blog Monday (before the deadline, but did not post it (or add links and graphics) until after deadline.  But I’m lowballing the illustration count.

I say I earn whiskey – birthday whiskey.

Now you know.