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.

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.

A ten year feedback loop

About ten years ago:

Ben in the photo that made him sort of famous.

I hiked the Sycamore Rim trail with Ben researching a hiking guide. 

I started the first version of what would become Go Action Fun Time.

I wandered around the AZ Renn Faire wondering what life was like for these vendors.

Those things have come back to haunt me. 

This very night, I would rather watch the Diamondbacks lose and blog, of all things, than find myself hate-watching the Republican Trump convention.

Happily, things are happening. 

Cheryl and Ruby

Cheryl and I had a nice, low-key vacation in the woods just outside of Williams. You can read some general area observations at Are We Lost Yet?

Towards the end of our hike, and she’s actually ready to kill me…

Last post I mentioned that we still had vendor booth inventory, but no events. Cheryl may have fixed that by starting her own event in Las Vegas. 

Plague VendorWalk 2020

The Beacon Center

 4505 W Hacienda Ave g2, Las Vegas, NV 89118

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2020 AT 10 AM – 5 PM

Yes – she is still taking applications for Vendors. 

The best way to contact is through Facebook ; https://www.facebook.com/unobtaniumbazaar/

Yes – I will be working this thing. 

We have a website – and you can gaze upon it, but it is not functional yet. 

To that end, a few lessons:

  • Formatting is no longer the nightmare it was ten years ago. It is now the easy part.
  • Getting content is harder.
  • Configuring for actual sales is harder still. 

That said, I still fight with formatting. 

Go Action Fun Time Episodes are starting up soon. I promise. I may be throwing in with a larger gaming group – but I have no useful details to report. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been slaving away at interior art for the real version of the rules. 

On Fox Sports, the announcers are re-hashing the strange calls that led to the D-backs 3-2 loss to the Rockies.

On CNN, Don Lemon is shaking his head sadly. I did not watch long enough to find out why. 

But I doubt the reason would surprise me.

Ten years ago, in this space, I  regretted not being a more consistent blogger. My next post would not be for 5 more months. The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Now we know. 

Why I am not walking the dog.

Arizona is under curfew tonight, so I couldn’t walk the dog even if I wanted to. 

What dog? Regular readers may ask. Hang on. 

Let me just say that this curfew is inexplicably state wide. So sitting here in Phoenix, I can argue whether it’s helpful, but I could at least follow the logic of it. If I were sitting in Gila Bend or Ajo or Snowflake, I would – I would probably find another reason not to walk the dog. It’s somewhat inconceivable that they are enforcing it in those places. 

Ducey’s order has so many exemptions the only thing it actually prohibits is protesting, and therefore would not stand long in court.  For example:

[Exempted:] Individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.

So not only could I plausibly walk this dog (though it would be a stretch), I could absolutely go to the topless bar down the street, which is now open despite the state having met basically none of the actual criteria the CDC set out for opening.

Last month, while we were under a more defensible curfew,  was the year anniversary of acquiring my 2015 Subaru Forester. I bought it at 48k miles. It just ran past 85k. That’s 30k miles in a year and probably not sustainable. 

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A year and 30,000 miles later my opinion hasn’t moved much: with the exception of the turning radius and the sound system, it is an upgrade in very way from my poor old Kia Soul. I’ve had some off-road adventures with it,but most of my miles are on the highway, where it is, actually, above average. 

I consistently get in the mid 20’s for gas mileage. Her preferred cruising speed seems to be 80 mph. I’ve become pretty adept at shoving things into it.

Even so, I had a moment of mild crazy and bought a second vehicle.

  • It is troublesome sharing a vehicle with Rey (for both of us) and
  • I really do need a back-up vehicle as Ruby is staggering into older-vehicle country and
  • I need to tow a trailer from time to time, and that is not in the Subaru’s wheelhouse so

I bought a 2001 Dodge Dakota for $4600 cash.

KIMG1433

The yet unnamed truck – priced as if dealer’s fee and tax did not exist.

And – I got what I paid for. 

The brakes are wonky – and likely about to fail. One of the headlights is out. The cruise control is long gone. And it overheats. I’ll know more once I get it to the mechanic. 

But its a truck with a tow hitch. And the first vehicle I’ve bought with cash since the 1980’s. 

KIMG1422

“Get down, Pipa! Now!”

Rey’s persistence at the pound yielded a 3 year old boxer named Pipa, who scares the crap out of my poor cats, and moves shoes and other objects around the house at random. When Rey is home there is a steady background of the phrase “Not for Pipa!”

I am convinced that the dog means no harm to the cats, but my cats are emphatically unconvinced. How do you train courage into adult cats? I do not know. So they hide outside except for a few hours in the early morning when the dog is firmly ensconced in Rey’s bed.

The kitten is not afraid. This is why I have some faith in Pipa. 

KIMG1441

Fireball is helping…

A small fluffy kitten Rey dubbed Fireball has wandered into the house and made herself at home, and plays with the dog.

My cats are also scared of the kitten. I dunno. 

 

WORD COUNT:

In the past seven days I:

  • Edited 20k of the 64 novel, in hopes to have a beta-read copy soon = 2000 words
  • Designed, drew, and colored two badge art proposals for MaricopaCon = 200 words.

KIMG1438

Not the finished product.

  • Edited about 10k words of the rulebook forGo Action Fun Time= 1000 words.
  • This blog = 1000 words. 

 

That’s 6000 out of 5000.

 

I’m still not walking the dog. That’s Rey’s job.

 

Now we know. 

 

How drunk can I get and still use a three-hole punch?

writertears

My natural habitat

If I hadn’t run out of paper, I have a physical pass-around copy of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice or The Voyage of the Sun Seeker in a three-ring binder, ready to hand over to any reader willing to actually read it, and brave enough physically receive it.

(In my defense, it runs 450+ pages printed out).

Or – I can e-mail you a PDF. I’m not sending one by text or Facebook or whatever. I need your e-mail.

The rest of it is printing out behind me as I write this.

I was delayed by arithmetic. I somehow miscounted the number of characters who actually go on the doomed voyage, and this number matters in the continuity, so I had to find “nineteen” and replace it with “seventeen” in like 18 places throughout the work.

Anyway it’s done. Whiskey!

I actually submit to the publisher of Beanstalk and Beyond next week. I am not under contract, so we’ll see what happens.

In other news, my household is well. Rey has a job at a grocery store in addition to their studies. I still program lights on construction sites. The sate of Arizona considers both of our roles “essential” so we still go out and brave the oogy-woogies.

I’ve had Ruby Vroom for a year, and I have some thoughts about that, but that will wait until next time.  I am late for whisky – and hole punching!

Ruby Vroom

Ruby – in younger days.

Let me know if you want to read the new thing!

Be well.

Pantsing a post

I’m really kinda alarmed at how much of a pantser I actually am. Ok, let me back that up for the non-writers. I’m really surprised at how much I make up as I go along.

Before we get to all that, a few quick plugs for things we learned on other topics:

Over at Curious Continuity, we have concluded our survey of FTL methods.

And at Fantastical History we recap some things we learned (including the pantsing thing) at Leprecon 45 last weekend. 

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Some people make and use plans.

In truth, I like to know what I’m going to write before I sit down, but the realities of time and life mean that sometimes I just have to sit down and tap away and see what happens. My problem is that I’m good enough at spouting out nonsense off the top of my skull that I charge into the void with unwarranted optimism.

And a lot of typos.

And then I tie myself up in a not when I actually have to pull the plot together.

My whole life goes like that. I have a bit of a plan, it fall apart from errant assumptions, I make a new plan? – no I just make stuff up until I’m out of it all somehow.

I abandoned a carefully researched plan to buy a car to snap up a car I assumed to be beyond my reach. (Ruby Vroom). I seem to be getting away with that.

Not really related, but something I learned: open both side of the dead swamp cooler before deciding to replace it. Sometimes the previous tenant had just disassembled the belt for some reason. Put it back together and – cool-ish swamp air until late July.

Back to things I make up as I go along – WORD COUNT:

I wrote 1000 new words on Taliesin’s New Apprentice (the working title for the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond), and transcribed 1500 into the thinking machine. Add the writer’s group I read it for critique in, and that’s 3000 words.

GAFtdicemonster

As I hinted at a bit in my last post, I edited and ran two episodes of Go Action Fun Time at Leprecon 45. That’s a thousand word worth each.

So At the Monday cut-off I made my 5000. And at the end of this blog, I’m already at 3000. But I got more to transcribe for Jack to read in 22 hours.

So now we know.

Faith in finance brings me Ruby Vroom

If you missed the last entry, we learned that my Kia Soul did not survive  a collision, and that was the end of that. (And I’m fine, because we also learned that’s the first question you’ll ask).

I have a new vehicle: a 2015 Subaru Forester.

Ruby Vroom.JPG

It has just under 50k miles, and represents a couple notches of improvement im bith size and over-all quality from the vehicle it replaces.

RubyVroom hiny.JPG

Even so, my payments are about the same. How is that possible?

Turns out I had gap insurance after all.

At least, that is the theory. There are a list of people, office professionals, who were going to contact me and confirm the details, and none of them have done so. Even the down payment check has taken nearly a week to clear.

But, as far as I know, I bought a car for the same money that I owed on the previous one.

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I named her Ruby Vroom – refering to the Soul Coughing Album, her color, and her tendency to go faster than you expect. A more complet review coming in a few weeks.

Assuming I still have her, of course.

GAFtdicemonster.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

WORD COUNT:

1000 words of new Taliesin’s Last Apprentice content.

1500 of 2nd draft TLA content

500 words for Thursday Night writer’s group.

500 words for editing Go Action Fun Time material and

1000 words for playtesting Go Action Fun Tie at my house last Sunday. This could become a regular thing.

Missed it by 500 words.

I will live with myself.

Now we know.