Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter Haikus

Windburn on my thighs
Old snow sits in frozen hunks
Winter lingers on

Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Endless Winter Never Ends

Happy Friday!
***
Graviton
[W]ith a strong enough electric field, Magneto can disrupt any object made from ordinary matter by converting it into a plasma of electrons and nuclei, thus destroying it. However, Graviton can create a black holearound any object that will also destroy it. In fact, if Graviton creates a black hole around Magneto, it would not only destroy him by taking him out of our universe but also eliminate any ability for him to project his electromagnetic field out of the black hole, since nothing can escape from a black hole. However, a black hole can support a static electric charge, so if Magneto is quick enough, he could create a big enough charge on his body so that the black hole would be charged—and in fact, if the charge is large enough it could prevent the black hole from forming, since for a given mass of black hole there is a maximum charge for a black hole of that mass. In this case, Graviton would just have to increase the mass of the black hole he is trying to create faster than Magneto can increase the charge and a black hole would eventually form. Once it is formed, Magneto would not be able to add any more charge to the black hole, so that would be the end of that.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dirty Haiku

Reading a new book.
There are a lot of haikus.
This next one is mine:

Warm skin next to mine
Soft sounds turn slowly to cries
Shared moments of bliss.

Sally liked that one.
I don't think I can say why.
Guess she just likes me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Running in Central Park

Caught a few girls checking me out in Central Park today. They were giving me the eye, for real. It was either my olive drab shirt, electric pink wind breaker opened to the navel Tour de France-style, and my striped tan hat, or else they just liked my beard.  Because, y'know, chicks dig the beard.

Also saw a girl on a bike wearing leather pants. Only in Manhattan.  

She was hot, though.

Sketch in My Notebook: The Order of the Blackened Glaive (Part 4)

Our story so far...

Having been forced from the Sentralian Military Academy, Drakar heads south on the ship Koraph's Delight, searching for the mysterious Fortress Abbadabass, home of the Order of the Blackened Glaive.

***
The Order of the Blackened Glaive
Part 4

Koraph’s Delight makes landfall the next morning.  Captain Koraph is no longer with the ship, but in his absence, the rest of the men have proven easy to manage.  Drakar reclaims his purse from Koraph’s cabin, leaving what he feels is a fair wage for his passage but claiming a share of Koraph’s strongbox as payment for his troubles during the journey.  He divies the rest of the coin out to the sailors, who are pathetically grateful to receive it.  The cabin boy weeps and asks to accompany Drakar, but of course, there can be no room for a child on the road to Fortress Abbadabas.  Drakar takes his leave of the ship without looking back, though he can feel the eyes of the sailors upon him as he descends the gangplank.  He thinks that perhaps he has done these men a service, though they will struggle for awhile without Koraph’s hand to guide them.
Their struggles are irrelevant.  Drakar has his own goals and his own concerns, and he cares little for the fates of men too weak to free themselves from the persecution of a man like Koraph.  Somewhere ahead lies the Order of the Blackened Glaive.  These are men made of sterner stuff, and it is with them that Drakar will find his fate.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Star Trek: Deconstructing Voyager

A few months ago, I decided to introduce my kids to Star Trek.  There was no specific reason why.  We simply needed something to watch on TV, and Star Trek is one of those iconic cultural phenomena about which youmust have at least some understanding if you want to understand what’s going on in modern American pop culture.  J.J. Abrams has made two Star Trek movies in recent memory, and although I think his first movie was very clever in some ways, he changed the universe’s aesthetic in some very unfortunate ways.  His follow-up, Star Trek: Into Darkness, was actively bad, but to understand why, you have to have seen Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan and understand its place in the grand scheme of things.  With Hollywood bent on making all these remakes and reboots, it makes sense to arm my kids ahead of time.  We therefore embarked on an extended expedition into the Final Frontier.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tri Training Log: Feb 16th to 22nd

This wasn't a great week of training or anything, but I managed to swim twice and run three times, and considering how hard it's been to get out there lately, that seems like a victory.

Friday, February 20, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: It's (Still) the Economy, Stupid

I'm running a little late today, so let's get straight to it.

***
The average balance for each borrower has grown by 74 percent in the last decade, mushrooming from $15,000 per person in 2004 to $27,000 in 2014…
[T]hings are not looking up for a growing slice of borrowers who can't keep parting with the chunk of money needed to make monthly payments toward their debt. The share of loans that were delinquent -- having payments at least 90 days overdue -- rose to 11.3 percent in the last three months of 2014, up from 11.1 percent the previous quarter.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sketch in My Notebook: The Order of the Blackened Glaive (Part 3)

Following an attack by Magister Zachaes, Drakar must leave the Academy.  His dreams tell him that his road is south, towards Fortress Abbadabas and the Order of the Blackened Glaive.

***
The Order of the Blackened Glaive
Part 3

Sentralia City is a big place.  Founded on a ring of seven hills surrounding the outlet of the Sentra River, it has long been the capital of an empire of men.  The ancient empire fell at the end of the Age of Legends, but this new empire, the Holy Sentralian Empire, grew from the ashes of the old at the end of the Kings’ War.  The Duchy of Sentra was overrun many times during that war, leading Grand Duke Baden Sentra to stand in desperate spiritual contemplation at the holy temple of the Twelve in what was then called the city of Sentra.  He was at last overcome, and legend has it that in this state he had a vision.  A blazing spear appeared in the sky, and the voice of Mars, bringer of conquest, spoke:
“By this you will conquer, in my name.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

D&D: Journey through Crocodile Crossroads

I was not planning to write a sequel to The Mystery of Malvern Manor, but we had our D&D friends and their kids over for dinner and gaming on Saturday night, and as a result, I needed another one-shot campaign.  Since I'd already introduced the kids to Breakwater Bay and its surrounding environment, I built from there.  I thought the kids would get a kick out of fighting dinosaurs, and as it happens, this proved to be correct.

I should note that I opened our session on action, skipping Scenes 1 and 2 and going straight to the heart of the action at Scene 3.  You can do that as well, or you can play through the interaction with Baron Pavelovitch, which is what I would have done with a group of strictly adult players.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Looking for something to read?

It's freezing cold outside.  It's not even ten degrees right now, and the "feels like" temperature is well below zero.  We've got winds above thirty miles per hour.  Gusts up to fifty.  Mounds of snow have blown into drifts like sand dunes all along my street.

Today is a great day to start a new book.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sat. News & Notes: Ignoring Valentine's Day

Let's start with the Russians...


Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day


Yeah baby!  Rowr!

5 Things on a Friday: Spider-Man Begins

Tomorrow is Valentines Day.  Not my favorite holiday, I admit, but I suppose somebody out there must get a charge out of it.  Plus, there’s a new Fifty Shades of Grey movie out if you swing that way—although the movie itself barely swings if the reviews are to be believed—and on top of that, it’s supposed to be freezing cold here in the northeast.
Eh.  The weather at least gives us an excuse to snuggle up together in bed.  Not that we needed one…

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lunchtime Run

I ran a little less than 3 miles is a little more than 24:00. It was windy coming around Trump Tower, but the sun felt nice once I got out into Riverside Park. Glad I went today even though it was tough getting out of the office.  With the wind chill, it felt like 14-degrees.

It's supposed to drop into the single digits tonight and snow again tomorrow.  I'm in denial about it.  Ugh.

Sketch in My Notebook: The Order of the Blackened Glaive (Part 2)

Last week, we left Drakar in the middle of a dream-like state, talking with the dark angels of Nyx, the mother of night.  He has heard the Call to Adventure.  This week he enters the Unknown World.

***
The Order of the Blackened Glaive
Part 2

Drakar wakes with a start.  He is in his bed, and his room is dark, but this is no hinderance to one whose blood courses with the fell power of the Pit.  Fire flares around his eyes, and the darkness falls away.  He looks around, sees that his roommate’s bunk is empty, and then he is out of bed and scrambling for his sword and shield.  His fingers grasp the hilt, but he has not yet set his shield when his door flies open, and there stands Magister Zachaes, fully armored, a long red glaive held in his hands.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

D&D: Monomyth Structure & Campaign Design

Even if you’ve never heard the term monomyth,” you are in all likelihood already familiar with at least some of its aspects.  Also called “The Hero’s Journey,” the monomyth is the story structure that underlies most ancient mythology and which has more recently served as the foundation for more than a few of pop culture’s most enduring and iconic stories.  The most famous and explicit of these is the original Star Wars trilogy, but the form can also be found underpinning the structures of various books and films, including The MatrixHarry PotterPercy JacksonAlice in Wonderland, the “Smallville” version of SupermanCaptain AmericaThe Hunger Games, and pretty much every other story in which the hero’s mentor dies tragically somewhere around half to three-quarters of the way through the story.  

The story of Heracles is one of the earliest
examples of the monomyth structure.
The monomyth works as because it’s part of our shared cultural language.  We’ve been brought up on it since the Greeks first started telling stories about Heracles around their shared camp fires some three thousand years ago.  It’s ingrained; it’s part of what makes us who we are.  As such—and because of its inherently mythological structure—the monomyth seems like a natural fit for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I finally managed...

...to get out for a run yesterday. After two weeks of snow and ice, it felt less like exercise than an exorcism. Man, this weather has been killing me.  I got no exercise all week and then woke up with a migraine on Saturday. Ugh.  People have been asking about triathlon lately, and I don't even feel like a participant. 

This is not good.

Assuming that the weather is at least a little cooperative, I need to get back in the pool this week.  We have our organizational meeting for the YMCA Tri Club on Friday, and I feel like a fraud going there, but maybe seeing the rest of the guys will help shake me out of my funk. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

News & Notes: It's the Economy, Stupid.

There were a couple of really interesting articles in this morning's Times.  Hope your weekend is going well.

Friday, February 6, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Hall of Meat

This week: Harper Lee has a new novel, Americans aren't getting it as much as they claim, and a tour the hallowed halls of the Hall of Meat.  

It's Friday, folks, and all this snow is getting to me.  I don't know what else to say about it.  Let's get it on!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sketch in My Notebook: The Order of the Blackened Glaive (Part 1)

I probably shouldn't show this yet, but I like how it's coming out.  For what it's worth, I've been reading a lot of Jane Austen lately, and I feel like her prose style has infected mine a bit.

The piece below is a kind of companion piece with the story Hannah put up last week, "The Person Next Door."  If you're familiar with the Monomyth structure, you may recognize it here.  I have to commend Hannah, though, for accomplishing her story with such economy.  I was hoping to make this one between three and five pages, but there is no way I'm gonna bring it in that quickly.

***
The Order of the Blackened Glaive
Part 1

Drakar can feel their stares, and he is tired of them.  He knows what they say when he is out of earshot.  Their whispers.  Their fears.  Their outright prayers for deliverance.
Devil-child.  Demonseed.  Creature of the night.
He has heard them all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

D&D: Warlocks of the Angelic Pact

I was a little surprised this week when one of the guys from my gaming group said that he’d read last week’s D&D article and that he thought I was wrong, that we actually do need an Angelic Pact for Warlocks.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

More Snow & Other Stories...

Most of the time I love Connecticut.  I really do.  But there are time when I absolutely cannot believe that this is where I wound up.  I've lived everywhere, yet somehow can't seem to escape the Hudson River Valley and its surrounding environment.

*sigh*
It's fourteen degrees, and we're supposed to be getting another 5" to 8" of snow this evening.  And what am I going to do about?  I think I'm going to try to run outside later today, so that I can at least get a little sun and vitamin D before the next round of frozen tundra descends on the entire area.