We found a way to run new rope through a headblock without someone (usually me) up at the headblock to force the issue:

We took a one foot section of the new rope and removed the central core. Then we stuck the onld (thinner) manila line and the end of the new rope halfway each into the empty sleeve, and taped the hell out of it with electrical tape. We had to yank it sternly to get that portion through the block (there are keepers,you see, which are designed to keep the rope in the block, but also just barely let the new thicker rope pass). In 30 linesets, it only broke once.

Every fire curtain is rigged a different way, so if you’re going to mess with it (like, say, re-roping it), you’d best march up to the grid and discover how the contraption is actually rigged.

Burkhard Heim may have come as close to a Unified Field Theory as anyone else [according to a New Scientist article which may require registration to view]. More importantly to the fictional future, his theories point the way towards a functional hyperdrive. Heim rarely published, and never published in English so much of his work from the 1950’s is just now being “discovered”.

My dream of a unified combat damage system for both melee weapons and firearms may not be possible. Primary evidence is that armor designed to prtect against melee weapons is useless against bullets, and for the most part vice-versa. Running numbers I discovered that melee damage can be satifactorily measured in Newtons while ballistic damage can be satisfactorily measured in Joules (kilojoules, actually). These line up with the damage range consensus among most RPGs.

E-books, copyright and zombies.

I wouldn’t count on another entry here until after the holidays.

Now you know.

Advertisements

Notes from 9/24/09 Writer’s Group

There is a great deal of advice out there on how to write a query letter for a novel, and precious little in useful facts. It is, after all, a completely subjective exercise. I’ve done a fair bit of research myself, and here’s the two sites I found most helpful:

Do’s: Nathan Bransford – literary agent – on how to get an agent. To save you a click – his “mad-lib” query template.

First I’m going to need these things:

[Agent name], [genre], [personalized tidbit about agent], [title], [word count], [protagonist name], [description of protagonist], [setting], [complicating incident], [verb], [villain], [protagonist’s quest], [protagonist’s goal], [author’s credits (optional)], [your name]

Don’t’s: For those who like their truth a little brutal, you can follow agent Janet Reid’s Query Shark (where you might eventually see my query letter). Reid critiques “sample” query letters sent specifically for that purpose (as oppossed to real query letters sent to her real agency).

I’ve stopped reading right here. […]

Answer three simple questions: who’s the protagonist; what choice does she face; what are the consequences of the choice. That’s ALL you need.

Not for those with squeamish egos.

Personally, I value the advice of agents and editors far more than the advice of teachers and authors. If your goal is to get through the slush pile – heed those who read that slush pile.

ASCII Codes for special characters

Alt+160 = á

Alt +130 = é

Alt +161= í

Alt + 162 = ó

Alt + 0252= ü

Alt + 163 = ú

Alt + 164 = ñ

Alt + 167 = º

Alt + 168 = ¿

Alt + 0193 = Á

Alt + 0201 = É

Alt + 0205 = Í

Alt + 0211 = Ó

Alt + 0218 = Ú

Alt + 0220 = Ü

Alt + 0209 = Ñ

Alt + 173 = ¡

§ couln’t find an ASCII number for this.

I inserted it from the dialogue box.

[Word to WordPress = weird typeset anomolies]

Not directly relevant – but too cool not to share: A pictorial tour of Odessa

The Encyclopedia of Ukraine on Nationalism. (And some “don’ts” of HTML typesetting).

Just who is Scott Turow anyways?

Namemeanings.com

Three viewpoints on ghosts:

1- Van Alst “Spirit Investigators” answer prospective client’s FAQ’s.

2- Canadian kooks researchers who believe ghosts are misunderstood and that exorcisms are worse than useless.

3 – Mystical Blaze ( a New Age reference site) with a relatively coherent run-down on theories behind ghosts.

And a sidebar – a review of a role-playing game rules about ghosts. (This is a PDF, and may take a bit to load.)

And if you absolutely cannot eat another can of beans in this old trailer, here’s the Kingman Chamber of Commerce list of Restaurants.

Now You know


Links of tangental relevance to my current life

Do you not get enough drama from your “friends” on Facebook?

Try following the antics of fictional friends on Fatebook.

Need a reason to stay up all night and fret about the future of humanity?

Robots with guns – soon!

Remember way back on my other blog, when I explained The Miserable Truth About Plastic Bottles?  No less than Slate.com agrees with me.

Forty years later: random facts about Apollo 11.

Have you just spent years writing the best RPG ever? Too bad.

The E-bbok debate nicely summarized in five points.

And now, because its been a while, further news on the antics of the octopi:

Spain’s Islands of the Gods. “But we’re content. We have our peace and everything we need: meat, octopus, goats, chicken and vegetables,” says Victoria, as she herds her goats into a stall.

And the journal Afarensis has compiled a survey of recent octopi literature including octopus ancestry, octopus porn, and a debate over whether octopi is actually a word in English.

Since “gianormous” is now in standard usage, I’m thinking yes.

Now You Know

WesternCon 62 Wrap-up

Back home, where the AC is not so cold at all…

More lessons from WesterCon 62:

Having two separate names for a Con does NOT help promoting it at all.

If you held a panel “Living with Asperger’s” – you would probably fill the room – for an hour of awkward conversation. [So ya know: this is not simply a casual interest of mine.]

If you’re a panelist and you go off at length about problem panelists dominating the conversation – guess what? Yeah. Horrified attendees will mock you on their blogs.

Sometimes the panel you most looked forward to attending turns out to be the least informative. So it goes.

In RPG’s at least, e-book sales did not measurably eat into print sales. Something for the rest of the publishing industry to note.

And now, in no particular order, links I have written down in my notes for one reason or another:

RPG Now for RPG e-book and more. Also: Warehouse 23 – for everything by Steve Jackson Games.

Middle-Earth for middle-graders: MEAG

If you’re going to self-publish, at least do it right with outfits lke this:

AZ Publishing Services

Looking for an agent, or just info about agents: Agent Query

and/or Query Tracker

(Oh – and agents do not frequent fan-orientated cons. They already have slush piles.)

Because I drank their booze and didn’t pay for it: The United Federation of Phoenix (Hooray! two, maybe three extra hits…)

Claudia Villa, costume designer who helped Kelly Sparrow (aka my daughter.) BTW, I’m best known around the Con as Kelly Sparrow’s father.

And she’s been warned that this is the last year she can get by on cute. Next year, she needs to work a bit more on her costume.

Pirate parties are the best.

Now You Know

Grim Stats re Falling Down OTJ

Work weekend at Whispering Pines Campground was fun and all – but not the same as camping.

Repairing treads on a trail is really just basic carpentry with much bigger nails.

I did more damage to my hands in that weekend than I did all week at work. Speaking of which…

We had a safety seminar on Tuesday. While most of the 3 pages of notes are company specific, I can share a few general facts:

AZ Workman’s Compensation is deliberately set up as a “No Fault” system. That was the compromise with the business community for their mandatory participation.

One of the calculations AZ Workman’s Comp uses to determinethe premium cost is the Experience Modifier, or E-mod which factors the Frequency of injury with the Severity of injury. The baseline for these calculations are based on “industry average” which, in turn, seems to be based on alchemy.

What actually interests me about this is that FrequencyxSeverity is the basic formula I use to calculate development costs for non-tactical powers in my RPG game. Great minds think alike.

The only surprise about all the stats we covered was how few surprises we found in the stats: 23% of injuries are to the hands, 20% occur in the loading dock area, in an industry where 3-5 hour calls are the standard, most injuries happened in the first three hours – I could go on for pages.

What didn’t show up in the stats was sleep deprivation, because there was no way to track how much rest a given stagehand had before reporting to work.

Here’s something to consider for everyone climbing on truss:

OSHA requires a Horizontal lifeline, and a harness wit a zip or screamer extension, a portion bunched together and sewn in place so that it extnds relatively slowly under shock load (like falling) so that the sudden stop at the end of your tether doesn’t crack your pelvis. Both the lifeline and the harness add six feet to your overall falling distance.

So consider:

6′ stagehand falls

6′ to the end of his lanyard and another

3.5 feet for the screamer plus another

6 feet for the stretch in the lifeline (which also has a screamer)

That’s 21.5 feet. If you’re only 18′ above the top of the drum riser – guess what?

Allowing for a 3′ margin of error, that means a truss has to be trimmed at 24′ or higher before your “fall-arrest” will actually arrest your fall

BUT, you’re required to use such a system anyway whenever the truss trims higher than 6′. That’s how the government keeps us safer.

The key, then, is to not fall off the truss.

Finally, inside terminology about freeway design from my new favorite source The Infrastrucurist.

Now You Know

Deep Nerd Round-up

The NBA Playoffs have started and … I don’t care. The Eastern Conference playoffs is really the LeBron James exhibition tour, and with San Antonio and Utah hollowed out with injuries, there’s nothing substantive between the Lakers and the Finals. Wake me up when Cavs/Lakers hits Game 4.

Cool archive of modern art: DirJournal

Need a glimmer of hope in these tough economic times? Gun makers – in this case Glock – are dealing with a boom market.

Notice the new page? Beyond the Beanstalk Query count: 0-1

More to come on that page, but not before I finish this page.

Further evidence the – right now – E-publishers are their own worst enemy: Amazon Kindle DRM vs paying customers.

I haven’t sent them money yet, but the demo alone is fun to play with:

Universe Sandbox

Now some game stuff. Non-nerds can just move on if they want…

Power Points, whether using magic or technology, equates to Joules/10. It’s not quite that simple. You still have to account for range and duration separately, but the core of the SFX can be measured in Joules.

I haven’t figured out the ratios yet, but the base development cost behind technology is based upon energy, mass of the fuel required to get that energy, and the cost of that fuel.

Now you know