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.

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.

Promises made to yourself are inherently negotiable.

An announcement first. Stand back a bit.

UnObtanium Bazaar will be at the Arizona Ren Faire at Hidden Lakes in Buckeye January 15-17.

Well, we are 90% on this, anyway. We’ll know more, and yell about it here, next week.

I have never been big on judging years as good or bad. It depends entirely on what criteria. That said, if you are a US resident and not an established member of the investor class, this has been a troublesome past 9 months and counting. If you are an investor, it has merely been annoying, and perhaps overly dramatic.  

I had, until very recently, avoided most of the painful impacts from Covid. My day job has been largely unaffected (we have, in fact, been slammed), and, despite being out and about on “essential” work, I had avoided infection.

Until three days before Christmas. So, bah humbug. But even that consisted of what felt like a head cold, and passed just as quickly. I am now out of quarantine, at least by county standards, and back to work.

https://www.maricopa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/58863/Home-Isolation-Guidance?bidId=

The guidelines feel like they had heavy input from the chamber of commerce, but they are the standard my work goes by, so off I go.

Now that we’re caught up on all that:

A little more than a year ago, I vowed that 2019 would be the last Christmas for which I did not have a book out. For various reasons, not all of which were avoidable, I missed that deadline.

By late November it was clear I was not going to be able to produce The Secret History of Empress Em (the final title of One of 64) by year’s end. The budget for cover art evaporated into an unexpected expense, and I’m kinda holding out for not doing my own cover art.

As late as December, an improved version of Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules seemed possible by Christmas. But, UnObtanium and surrounding hoo-hah (see last few posts) had set me behind, and then perfect became the enemy of done. Mostly the latter – mostly on my end.

I made the decision that I would forgive myself for breaking my promise to myself if the end result was a better product by mid-January. It was not like I was going to see any Christmas retail bump anyway.

That said, the new Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules Deluxe Edition will be in the transom by the end of the week, and available probably by my birthday later this month.

Deluxe means a new cover, slightly fewer typos and an index. But also some substantial editing of the rules for clarity and consistency.

This should be a downloadable PDF on Drive-Thru RPG by the end of the week. I also plan to have Lulu print me about 25 copies for physical sale. Then I will investigate other outlets.

  • It had been long enough that I had to re-learn formatting PDF’s.
  •  Printable PDF’s need the cover included, but for-print PDF’s want the cover as a separate thing altogether. This proved an enormous pain-in-the-ass as neither Acrobat or Word make it easy to remove the first two pages without destroying the page number scheme I had coddled it into.
  • Making an index in Word somehow changes the page numbering, so do that before updating page references in the manuscript.
  • Using an outline in Word makes using the Thumbnails in Acrobat more straight-forward and makes HTML tags irrelevant. The TOC Thumbnail as a sidebar is actually easier to use overall.
  • The absolute last bit of editing, after the TOC, after the index, is find all the places you referred a reader toa page number in the document and insert those page numbers. This is the only way you will ever be accurate about that.

If you want to game-master Executive Produce Go Action Fun Time, contact me, and I will hook you up for basically free. Otherwise, the PDF’s go for $8.99 and the hard copies are going for $20.

Meanwhile, I am out of my Covid cave and ready to face another orbit around the sun. Cheers.

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.]

The Rise of the Creatives is still a climb

My girlfriend read and embraced Richard Florida’s 2002 pop-sociology book Rise of the Creative Class, postulating that creative talent would be in demand in an information-driven economy. I haven’t read the book, but from 2020, the premise seems obvious enough.

I often quote Hunter S Thompson who came to the sme view sideways:

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

There’s news on that front, but first let’s get tomorrow out of the way.

If I am in town, I prefer to vote in person, on election day. Mostly that is to give down-ballot candidates and issues the full window to make their case. Also, I am a difficult voter to challenge, being registered, white, male, and relatively well versed in law. I don’t expect trouble (I am also a master at finding the dull hour to vote) but I might be hoping for it more than I should.

So you know, it is expressly illegal in Arizona to be on school property with a fire-arm. So if you are seeking a safer place to vote – half the polling places are in schools.

If it bothers you that I feel compelled to write that sentence – it should.

I’ve made my endorsement over on Brazen Wonk.

I have on the table the contract from New Link Publishing for Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond (which they also published). So settle your wagers accordingly.

This will be a thing.

Also a thing:

Last weekend we set up the event pavillion for the upcoming Mojave Renn Faire (see last entry).

The finished – enough result

Relatedly, last week, I learned that creating your own custom font and then turning that into stencils is more time consuming than you think. (Like three whole evenings) (What does that mean in word count?)

Three nights of my life…

So you’ll excuse me if I plead exhaustion and cut this short without a pithy ending. I’m tired, and I still have to get up tomorow, go to work, and defend democracy.

Now we know.

Entry Level Magic

Unobtanium is an old SF trope meaning any substance you made up because it is realistically unobtainable by known science. It is actually credited to engineers, who meant by the term the substance they wish they had. Worth noting that early SF writers were often engineers or worked closely with them.

To get unobtainium you need some hand-wave science (another SF term basically meaning science we made up) or outright magic. Around here, we have been attempting both, with some surprising if limited success.

We’ve talked abut the Unobtanium Bazaar (only one i) here before, and then we talked a bit about how Covid killed that initiative. (It killed the Vendor Walk we tried to hype up last post.) Well, the clouds may have parted a bit.

Kingman (technically Mojave County) is throwing itself a Renaissance Faire next November, and we will be there.

Mask up and head northwest if you’re inclined, and you can walk around at six-foot intervals.

We’re even listed as a vendor!

It’s OK. We will learn a lot.

I feel I am about 80% there on how to present merchandise on a Wix website engine. (You can check my progress in the most predictable link). A merchandise page is not the same as a gallery.

I purchased, mostly on impulse, a second 3D printer, this one a Cubic printer. Which uses LCD-based SLA 3D Printer, meaning it reduces resin with UV light as opposed to additive filament of my Ender (which is basically and advanced glue gun). They are both buzzing behind me right now.

The printer fresh out of its box and still full of hope.

(Again we note that not formatting your photo to be copied easily on the interweb defeats the point of modern marketing. The photo above is mine, of course.)

I’m trying to make some antlers to add to a stuffed rabbit. Reasons. I have limited confidence that either machine is up to that on this pass. But I will get there.

Rey is making abominations for Unobtanium.

Otis the Owlbear.

Also, they have a new cauldron and is, right now, making potions.

Entry level magic for all of us, but that seems to be the way forward now. Many of the norms, by which you could make incremental but dependable progress, have collapsed. We are all improvising now.

Well executed improvisation, combined with some luck, is indistinguishable from magic.

I have also, basically on a dare, worked up a card-game version of Go Action Fun Time for what is becoming Alcazar Games.  It is, predictably, a bit more complicated than we initially envisioned, but the first couple of things I slapped together for playtest worked well by playtest standards, so we press forward.

The end goal is to kick-start this thing.

The regular GAFT RPG is waiting on solving my audio problems with Discord. Meaning I have to buy  a real microphone.

On top of all that, I am still trying to push the novels forward.

So that’s why I don’t blog very often.

If you’re worried, I still have a job, and I am reliably making my self-imposed word-count – just not reliably with this blog.

There are no guarantees in magic, but I have a good feeling about what lies ahead.

Now we 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.