The Things You Learn Time Traveling

First off, in warning, both pizza and commercial quality whiskey are relatively new things. They can only be found in recognizable form from the late 1800’s onward.

I accidentally set myself up for some difficult dives in Go Action Fun Time. There are three adventures where the cast travels down the Silk road, with merchandise bought in China, hoping to sell it for a profit in – well I wrote Byzantium, but that’s not actually on the Silk Road. Least of my problems.

Currency. Not so much for a specific episode – I can look up, to a point, the currency of China circa 250 ce (where the journey starts). But when I’m writing rules for commerce, i need some exchange medium that will translate across different times and economies.

This is a good quick primer.

In the existing rules,I defaulted to a prevailing day’s wages, but that would take too much research for the average Executive Producer (the game-master in GAFT). Plus, compensatory wages are also a relatively new thing. But I may be able to come up with a table of shells= animals= salt = silver = gold that will take us into recorded history.

It takes about 60 days to cross the Taklamakan Desert on foot via camel caravan. I mention that because it was a hard fact to come by, and basically had to be deduced. 6-4-1170x658-1

The sixty days assumes taking either the north or south route arond the edges of the desert. No one goes straight across. Taklamaka supposedly means Desert of No Return. It is one of the driest and one of the coldest deserts in the world. Some years the only precipitation is a brief dusting of snow. There are zero water sources in the deep interior. It is a sea of sand.

The Silk Road takes up three episodes, and I plan to eventually publish them.

 

e-deck-watermark

Yes, That Lusitania, in contrast, is likely to remain a convention only episode. This is mostly due to my reliance upon the Lusitania Resource site. Any published document I produce would have to re-write and re-present the historical accounts, and re-render their maps, and that’s all way beyond fair use. So I just open up a laptop at the convention game room.

It doesn’t always load – so there’s that.

Also, as excellent as that map is, it does not have the level of detail you would need for a tactical encounter. There must be, logically, ladders of some sort from F deck tot he boiler rooms, but they are not indicated on the floor-plans.

The deck plans are from design blue-prints. They are not as-builts.

Also, Lusitania – which starts hours before the ship sinks, involves known, historical people with real living relatives, and that would require a more sensitive treatment of the subject than GAFT time typically achieves. The narrative voice of GAFT can get flippant.

My real problems are not research.

My problem with the existing product is that I am not yet confident that someone could make a character, must less run an adventure, without me being in the room to interpret what I wrote.  As much as I want to Just Do It, we are probably 30% through the playtest/revision process, rather than the 80% I once assumed.

A note from writer’s group mostly for my own reference (while I still have deck-plans left):

The Flea by John Donne

Still the Lusitania goes on…

So one more history note, this one about Jack’s on -again/ off-again mentor, the legendary bard Taliesin.

There are extant poems reliably (by Dark Age standards) attributed to a historical Taliesin, who served the lords of Rheghed in the early 6th century. This actual bard, though was, well, mediocre, judging by those works, which were mostly songs praising his patrons.

Good for him, but it doesn’t justify the legend.

My head-canon is that the bard of Rheghed took Taliesin’s name, but is not actually that legendary bard.

The Taliesin I write about (in the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) would never write any of his own poetry down anyway.

Now we know.

 

 

The Sun Shines Brightly on distant shores – and other notes.

First, some announcements:

 

Go Action Fun Time returns:

Go Action Fun Time info.

[For perspective, for the last game session, I drove like a madman from Vegas to make the game on time, and one person showed up. If that pattern continues, I have a back-load of other projects that need attention.]

GAFT Foxhunt color2

My artwork. 

Episode 2 – The Fox Who Hunted Back

In the far future, an uplifted fox holds an ancient grudge.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

1:00 PM

Scale & Feather Meadery

1050 N Fairway Dr, Building E, Suite 112

This is part of the regular Crit Hit event. You do not have to be part of that group to participate.

Scale & Feather has excellent mead, but limited food. 

hill-prehistoric-survivors-fb

Not my artwork. 

Episode 3 – The Blistering Death

A mysterious disease threatens to wipe out the pygmies in the prehistoric Congo. You will find a cure. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

4:00pm

My house.

If I have no players on Saturday, we might play Fox Hunt on Sunday. 

There will be a third episode – Likely Silk Road Part 1 – over the 3rd weekend in November. It will be the Friday night, unless I have to travel, in which case it will be the Sunday. 

 

Now to content:

I will admit it freely: I predicted, to myself mostly, that with an actual starting point guard, and with any improvement from DeAndre Ayton, and with any production from whoever plays power forward, the My Beloved Suns had a shot at 30 wins, and a ceiling of maybe 38 – which would be double their win total from last year.

They just beat the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76’ers in a game they would have been blown out of a year ago. 

Now we are all thinking play-offs – even in the brutal, brutal Western Conference.

Even if they fall short, they will be in the hunt until the last few games, and it is awesome to have basketball that is not painful to watch again.

 

Regular readers will recall that I go back and forth from Las Vegas for reasons. Last week I learned about the Inescapable Resort Fee, but on the plus side, I discovered a Brit bar (The Crown and Anchor)  that serves Scotch eggs. Those are the dish of choice to go with your Guiness for brunch. 

Consequently, I get a lot of ads across my social media about Vegas things. And I ignore them. I have other sources I consult. 

karlinn

No resort fee…

Now, I am getting ads about Iceland.

Events in the Jack sequel I am writing  (to Beanstalk and Beyond) take place on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, which, I know from research, is home to like 90 species of birds at various times (none of them puffins) and three species of land mammals, one of which is technically invasive. 

I have no idea how the name would be pronounced.

It has also seen a good amount of volcanic activity since 498 ce (when the action takes place) so I feel free to make up some details about the coastal features. 

I have lost track of word count, but we have been going good the last few weeks, in spite of the travels. I do not normally play Nanowrimo, but I am committing myself here to finish this manuscript by the end of the month. 

Google maps is also keeping track of Jack’s journey:

 

Now we know.

Briefly resurrecting old jokes.

I have recreated my dead(ish) hiking blog Are We Lost Yet?. Sometimes I can access the ghost of it’s presence on my publisher’s site. Sometimes I can’t. I have yet, after six mnths of promises, been able to add to or modify the site, so I am pulling the plug on my end as well.

New hiking content (as well as some old retreads) will appear at Arewelostyet.blog.

Who knows? I might even make a dollar or two.

Old Suns joke:

Why haven’t the Suns ever won a championship?

Because Alvan Adams is still the best center they have ever had.

But I saw the Suns preseason opener tonight, and I believe DeAndre Ayton could get there. As a raw rookie, I yet disbelieve he’s going to be the 20/10 all star he has been projected to become, but he is already starting quality.

Wasted, of course on a team that is still painfully young, and has a 30 win ceiling, despite any of Ayton’s heroics, because they neglected to trade for or sign a starting quality point guard.

In other news, I need a pirate costume by October 12th because of my girlfriend. I just like having that sentence not be random gibberish in relation to my life.

In particular I need a shirt.

Worcestershire sauce, spilled all over the floor, is disturbingly like blood.

Word count is 3000, mostly on the new blog, which is remarkable given my distractions of late.

But … oh my lookit the time.

Now we know.

 

The Ladder of Poor Decisions

I dimly recall reading somewhere that, on a broooaaad average, half of US management decisions are wrong. I’d love to cite that source, but it was something I picked up working backstage at a university in  the early 90’s and skimmed through while waiting on a cue.

That’s poor documentation for an insight that has informed my approach to managing and dealing with managers most of my adult life.  Even so, I have found this to be roughly true. We are only right about half the time – on the first try.

In my RPG systems (I’ve written three) I assume that an average person will succeed at a common task (that they have no particular expertise in) about half the time. This more or less works out.

Now, this is hard to pin down because most of us do not keep score about when we are right or wrong. Some experts think we should start, but most of us don;t actually balance our checkbooks, so good luck with that.

At a recent writer’s group, we received well meaning if unsolicited advice about how we go about making poor decisions. Complete with a hand-out.

Ladder of Inference

Adapted from The Fifth Discipline by Peter Serge

We work our way up this ladder of loosely defined terms whenever we make a decision, or so the presentation went. Experience informs data which informs Meaning and so forth. On average, though, we go up this ladder in about six seconds, which does not leave a lot of time to fully consider all the steps, particularly the lower ones.

Which may go a long way towards explaining our half-wrong problem.

But there’s an even chance that’s not the problem at all.

Our friends the octopi (a frequent subject of this blog) have a completely different approach., as this well-animated TedEd video explains:

Now you know.

 

Accumulated Notes from Writer’s Groups

First an announcement: I have started One of 64 as a web-comic. Every Thursday, you can watch me teach myself, perhaps painfully, how to produce a web-comic. The first four pages came out, by accident of Friday. That has been corrected.

Start here.

For those who might be new here, I go to a fair number of open invitation drop-in writer’s groups. More about that here, if’n you care. Sometimes I share first or second drafts. Most of the time I take notes. Here are some that have accumulated over time, in more or less the order they appears in my notebook.

Most of these notes are things I am reminding myself to look up afterwards, and the link would be the most relevant site I found in a few minutes searching.

I am told by multiple sources that 24 reviews of your work on Amazon bumps you up a level in exposure via their algorithm.

The Cheyenne Tribe speaks of their prophet and greatest medicine man, Motzeyout. The piece presented at group suggested he was a time traveler who predicted the coming of the white man.  That’s not mentioned in the summary here, but not ruled out either.

I have a note that says “Iowa Bird Museum” which does not seem to exist. You can go visit the Talbot Collection at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and/or the Stempel Bird Museum in Macedonia Iowa. Both are sizeable collections of dead birds in various poses, but I think our author was describing the Talbot Collection. If you yearn to see living birds in Iowa, try the Iowa Raptor Project in Solon Iowa.

I have a note reading “history of Pima cotton in China” which I’m going to skip. You’re welcome.

I have two books noted:

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes 

Poltergiest – a Study in Destructive Haunting by Colin Wilson.

Below these I wrote: “Crackpot psychiatry is good fuel for fantasy”. So you were warned.

I have written “Akasha” which is either the Hindu equivalent for the Ethreal Plane or the name of the first Vampire. I have no idea which I meant here.

Finally, Skylark of Space is the first commonly recognized published space opera. The Author, EE Smith would go on to write the Lensmen series that gave us about half the known tropes in that genre. You can read it on Gutenberg, and so can I.

Now you know.

 

 

 

 

No Ranting – Just Links.

Arizona House Bill 2112, the Technical Production Services exemption, has passed the AZ Senate, and sits on Governor Ducey’s desk. Here’s what I wrote about it for the March 2015 Collaborations – the newsletter of the Desert State USITT

Arizona House Bill 2112, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, intends to remove the ability of live event technical professionals to collect unemployment. So if it passes, which seems likely, just about anyone reading this newsletter would be unable to collect unemployment compensation from the state of Arizona, even if they otherwise qualify.

The official summary says:

HB 2112 exempts technical event production services personnel from the definition of employee for purposes of the unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES).

That’s one of a long list of stoopid things the Tea & Gun party legislature is doing to our state. But I’m not going to turn this into a rant. This is a list of shorter items.

What I learned at my next-to-last board meeting (I’m currently the Secretary, but will be termed out by September) is that our DS-USITT is a unincorporated non-profit association, which means you can deduct fees or donations given tot hem from your taxes, but they can’t provide you with formal documentation.

Also, we learned that Arizona considers our traditional 50/50 raffle to support a student membership to be gambling – even if you are a lowly  unincorporated non-profit association. Because freedom.

No – not going to rant.

When driving to Tucson, don’t stop at Eloy. When I stopped there, I choked down a Carl’s Jr sandwich while surrounded by overweight white people with guns. I am an undersized, unarmed theater nerd. Ate quickly, Got out. Stop at Pichacho Peak instead. That Dairy Queen/Shell station/gift emporium was stocked by non-threatening, if unhurried old hippies.

Now – Links:

Research to replace my old tent:

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Best-Camping-Tent/ratings

What adhesive should you use? http://thistothat.com/

Someone thinks about pterosaurs. A lot.

http://www.pteros.com/pterosaurs.html

Background for my work in progress:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/background-for-the-beanstalk/

Curious Continuity looks at the barely forseeable future:

https://curiouscontinuity.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/some-visions-of-the-barely-forseable-future/

And finally, SciShow Space starts out talking about tin whisklers and ends with talking about one of this blogs regular obsessions – strange toilets.

 

Which leads us to the ESA telling you more than you might have wanted to know about that.

You’re welcome.

Now you know.

An Irish Link Dump

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!

 

http://www.historyireland.com/st-patrick/st-patrick-the-legend-and-the-bishop/

Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/mar/12/how-to-make-perfect-irish-coffee-st-patricks-day-recipe

Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.

http://www.drinkhacker.com/2008/11/01/the-best-whiskey-for-irish-coffee/

 

Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.

https://ineedcoffee.com/the-best-irish-coffee-in-the-world/

 

For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.

https://youtu.be/Hq0SBwkLvUo

Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.

http://www.livingmyths.com/Celticmyth.htm#Dagda

The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.

ancient-irish

For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.

https://www.harp.com/history-of-the-harp.htm

http://www.theharpfoundation.org/about-us/history-of-the-harp/

Now you know.

 

Check out Fantastical History

My other blog where fact meets nonsense:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/hello-world/

Also:

Ranker lists 37 bizarre toilets from around the world so that I don’t have to

and

Taken from the article in Deep Sea News

Turns out baby squids struggle with “cute”.

Now you know.

A return to Thursday night writer’s group notes

In the distant past, when this was a more regular blog, I used to note things I learned at my weekly writer’s group. Currently, we meet on Thursday night at Armadillo Grill at 7pm. We’re supposed to go about two hours, but we’ve been going 2.5 hours. I choose to interpret that as a good sign.

The group is organized through MeetUp.com, but we welcome any interested writer.

First though, from IO9, and Tumblr, my new favorite blog: “Things I learned as a Field Biologist

Ok, last night we learned – in no particular order:

In China, red envelopes traditionally contain good news (or what the sender supposes to be good news). Red is lucky.

Mexico has 68+ separate languages. Purepechan isn’t related to any of them. But their culture still exists – after a fashion, throughout Michoacan. More from the Mexican Guru.

It’s nearly impossible to research Japanese actors on the interweb if you don’t have the correct spelling of their name.  If Toshiro Wantanabe (how I wrote it down) is an actual Japanese actor, he has been totally eclipsed by a physics professor of a similar name.  So here’s a good summary of Japanese movies about WWII – the reason we cared about this actor at all.

The Wright Brothers have an official website.  So does the cartoonist Rube Goldberg.

The trouble in researching the Druids of ancient history is that they didn’t write much down, and they didn’t feel like explaining themselves to outsiders. Any useful common knowledge about the religion was essentially wiped out by the Christianization process. This is what Father Oak says about human sacrifice

There is far enough evidence to substantiate the claim that the ancient Celts practiced and performed some form of human sacrifice. There is a great deal of evidence that these sacrifices were, however, voluntary in nature and that the sacrificed served as intermediaries, who took the petitions of their people directly before the God(s) of their clan.

There. We’re moving on now. (That’s an inside joke)

Pope Pius XI would have been the See through most of the 1920’s and 1930’s. As much as I hate to violate my wikipedia rule, they have a fairly balanced and thorough account of his life. All the other bio’s I found were either from the church, or from its sworn enemies.

You can still find druids in Florida.

 

Everything you would want to know about Epsilon Eridani.

 

Tesseracts are a real thing and will hurt your head.

 

Perhaps Carl Sagan can help you out with that.

 

Now you know

Complexities of concrete and paper and making a living in the 21st century

Concrete traffic barricades come standard in 6′ or 12′  lengths, which is a problem when you need them less than 5′ in any direction, and still weighing at least 3000#. This is the sort of thing I do at work. Tomorrow, I’m in a harness, in a swingstage, changing lightbulbs in a scoreboard.

There are hundreds of different grades of cement and concrete, including a variety that floats. Engineering students make canoes out of this stuff and race them.

Yes they do:

 

There also exists about a hundred different grades of paper, and keeping track of those is a job skill unto itself. Owning a printer doesn;t make you a publisher.

Writing a book, though, makes you a marketer – and paper is only one format. More on that in Writing Made Visible

(updated after some neglect.)

And Fossil Springs Road is closed for the summer. More on that in Are We Lost Yet?

 

Now you know.