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.

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.

This is not a post-mortem of gloating.

We must not gloat. 

Gloating is the habit of losers beating the odds. You score a touch-down, you’re allowed a fist pump or the like, but then toss the ball to the ref like you were supposed to make a touchdown. 

You don’t need to keep the ball. There will be more. Because you did the work. You figured it out. You learned from your mistakes and adjusted. Competence wins out over time, all the time. 

Luck is consistently 50/50, not just by definition, but mathematically. Your fate is as much a series of coin-flips as anything else. Smiley-face/frowny face = 50/50. 

It is said that a person needs three lucky breaks in a row to improve their status. Not impossible, but generally unlikely. There’s really nothing you can do to change the odds on the coin flips. Luck is famously indifferent to effort or even competence. The coin spins how it spins. 

But let me propose, based upon my own experience, and observations of others, that prepared and competent people can move ahead in two lucky breaks, which is far more plausible. 

Which brings us to the recent Mojave County Renaissance Faire. [https://www.mohaverenfaire.com]

https://westernnews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/11/17/joust_1_use_web_MS2ZIAo_t715.jpg?529764a1de2bdd0f74a9fb4f856b01a9d617b3e9

https://westernnews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/11/17/joust_1_use_web_MS2ZIAo_t715.jpg?529764a1de2bdd0f74a9fb4f856b01a9d617b3e9

{If you were hoping I was heading towards politics – sorry. Not this post.}

The event, which actually happened  November 13-15, despite the rising tide of COVID even in windswept Kingman, drew about 3000 visitors over three days (according to the Kingman Daily Miner https://kdminer.com/news/2020/nov/17/kingman-renaissance-faire/)

Our home away fromreality.

Our booth did well. Even though we were the farthest in, we were also right by the jousting exit, which balanced our fortunes. After expenses, we did not make enough to quit our jobs, but we made enough to want to do it again. 

Catch the coin, lift your hand: smiley face. 

Cheryl (right) and friend in character.

Much of what we learned is specific to our booth logistics, and not of general interest, but these lessons might be:

  • Absolutely worth it to take a day and set up the booth and take it down in controlled conditions. (see last post).
    • So you have time to go to the store and get the things you now know you actually need.
    • And have some idea of how it’s going to take to set up and tear down. 
    • The more complete the better. The elements we did not have available, or skipped, during the dry tech (to use the theater term) were the elements we struggled most with in the field. 
  • If you are hoping it won’t blow out of the trailer on the freeway, it will totally blow out of the trailer on the freeway. Don’t load the trailer with hope. 
  • Price tags mean you can leave the booth with someone while you go pee. 
  • The Square reader paid for itself in an hour. We believe we had a 20% bump in sales because we could take credit cards (or magic, as we called it in character, “Will that be coin or magic?”)
  • Relatedly, it was totally worth it to have a couple hundred in small bills on hand. We made several sales based upon our ability to break a 50. 
The sun sets on the clearance rack.

Yeah, it was our first booth as primary vendors. (I have sat in such things for my publisher, but all I had to do was show up), but most people were surprised to learn that. 

We are also both career production professionals who have been on the organizing side of fairs and conventions. We were supposed to score a touchdown. And we did. 

Also worth noting: I sold more books (Beanstalk and Beyond) at this fair than I have at any publisher sponsored book event. 

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/
An actual book you can buy!

Funny we should mention that.

I have signed the contract for the sequel (Taliesin’s Last Apprentice) and hope it will be out this summer. 

So next November, you can come up to Kingman and buy both books from me. Signed of course, at the fair price of $15/each. Cash or magic. 

[Tosses ball back to ref. Goes to the sideline to drink whisky.]

Planets and urinals and an excuse to link

It be Talk Like a Pirate Day! Which is the same day as threaten your co-worker if he doesn’t stop talking like a pirate day.

It’s not Blog like a Pirate Day. Maybe we should start a movement.

A few quick links before the toilet humor starts:

A post-mortem of my book signing can be found at Are We Lost yet

GAFDE on blogging (which I am ignoring right now) at Writing Made Visible

The discovery of this planet isn’t monumental, (see last post for more on this process)  but the artwork is cool:

NASA has a new on-line tool to explore planets in our own system. The LA times describes it here.

“You are now free to move about the solar system,” Blaine Baggett, a manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, said in a statement. “See what NASA’s spacecraft see — and where they are right now — all without leaving your computer.”

The actual tool is here.

Eyes on the Solar System

Here ends the respectable portion of this blog entry.

So, according to the WordPress dashboard, one of the top searches leading to this site is “unicorn pooping marshmallows” which leads you to thi

 

That post also has one of the few clean photos of yours truly on this blog, and a video explaining the importance of the First Follower.

This post features something equally classy:

That is a Lady J – a portable urinal for women. That’s right, we span the globe to find weird urinals all over the world – even in your over-sized purse. Franly, I’m kinda disappointed the device isn’t pink.

So you know, women use these things in adventure and other travels. I learned about it from Kelly, who went around the world in a boat.

If you follow the D-backs or the Mercury, playing hard all the way through the game can get you a LOT farther than any of the talking heads would have expected.

Now you know.

 

CopperCon 31 and a few other lessons

First – I’ve actually updated other blogs.

Are we lost yet profiles Elden Springs and my upcoming book signing / workshop.

DIRECT LINK TO THE REI EVENT

And at Writing Made Visible, there are some reposts about the accelerating sales of  e-books.

Small cons are great – because you can actually talk to people!

Buy some light groceries and keep them in the hotel room.

The art carries the story in a comic book (or graphic novel, or any variant). Words only get what little space is left over, so every word has to count. No small talk.

There is no standard for comic book scripts. Unless you’re writing for Dark Horse Comics. Their format is here.

Marketing (or anything else) via social media – a few rules:

1) Be social first! Pitch your crap second. The other way around just gets you deleted.

2) If you’re not comfortable with the format, don’t use it. You’ll likely suck at it anyway.

3) If you’re marketing yourself as a writer – write well. Spells words correctly.

4) No amount of social media presence will make up for a shoddy product.

The current estimate is that half of all star systems have planets, and the average may be 1-10 planets per star.

We find an awful lot of “Hot Jupiters” – gas giants closely orbiting a star – which goes against our model of how solar systems form. We know why we keep finding them – they are relatively easy to spot. We have no idea why they would exist at all.

Planets orbiting pulsars are very easy to find, even as small as the Earth. But the pulsar’s radiation makes life pretty much impossible.

Piratey sword-fighting was all about shorter movements with shorter swords (crowded ships and all).  And footwork – you live or die by footwork.

I’m over adapting anything to D20. It’s no longer supported for 3.5, and I have no urge to learn 4.0. I’m pushing forward with the game. Amen.

I’m thinking about writing it in Tiddlywiki. Seriously.

There might be a separate blog for that later on.

Finally New Scientist looks into the quantum-mechanics of human thought.

Now you know.

Pirates, Monsters and dimensions [9/18/08]

Tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day – which is more than simply an excuse to annoy your co-workers (although, I can tell you, in my case, this will certainly occur).

On June 6th, 1995, two guys, getting slap happy from an extended game of raquetball started talking in pirate slang, and had so much fun they resolved to do that at least one day a year from then on. They chose September 19th, one of their ex-wife’s birthdays, because t was a date he couldremember that wasn’t occupied by an other event. For several years they remained faithful to their inside joke, which spread to friends and co-workers but not much farther. Until… they e-mailed Dave Barry about their annual observance, and he wrote a column about it.

Now it is celebrated worldover,and is the most sacred holiday of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who revere pirates even more than strippers. The church of the FSM is a great story as well, but I already knew it.

What I also learned is that it did NOT originate with the indie movie Pirates of the Great Salt Lake, as has been suggested to me. This clearly predates that 2007 film, whatever its merits. (I haven’t seen it).

If you have some time to kill, and can’t hear enough about geometry and complex numbers, check out the Dimensions series of short films. Originally made in French, but they have deigned to translate it into English for the benefit of their barbarian brothers across the pond.