Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Army Football Preview: First Look at Spring Camp

Army Football opens Spring Camp tomorrow.  Practices are open to the public, as is the Spring
Game at the end of the month.

The schedule is as follows:

Friday, April 1
Monday, April 4
Wednesday, April 6
Friday, April 8
Saturday, April 9
Tuesday, April 12
Thursday, April 14
Saturday, April 16
Tuesday, April 19
Thursday, April 21
Saturday, April 23
Tuesday, April 26
Thursday, April 28
Friday, April 29
Saturday, April 30 – Black-Gold Game, Michie Stadium


Let’s assume you want to watch a practice or attend the Black and Gold game.  What should you be looking for?
Army’s defense ought to be ahead of its offense this spring and again next season—at least early in the year.  With apologies to the defense, then, this article focuses mostly on offense, which is where we have the most questions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 4)

The Sneax & Elaina Emboo experiment continues!

This is my daughter Hannah's cover.
Our Story So Far:
Sneakatara Boatman was abandoned as a child by parents she never knew.  Life in the orphanage was tough for a tiny girl with few ways to defend herself, and she lit out as soon as she was able.  But the streets of Docks District are no safer than life was back at the orphanage, and now the loathsome street criminal Russitan Lassiter has Sneax at his mercy.

Elaina Emboo is a rich girl from a nice family, but her controlling father has her entire life mapped out already.  Elaina envies Sneax's freedom without truly understanding its cost.  Still, she agree to help when Sneax asks her to head up to the Old Church to meet with Lassiter.  

Sneax and Elaina get the scare of their lives when they realize that Lassiter has an appointment with Draks, the fire elf.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The most important news of the day

We've learned how the lions merge to form Voltron!


That right there is some quality engineering.

The series debuts June 10th.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

I'm feeling particularly blessed today.

Sally and I celebrated Founder's Day with the West Point Society of Connecticut last night at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, and as always, I came away feeling recharged and enthusiastic, both about my place in the Long Grey Line and about where we are as a family in general.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

5 Shows We've Been Watching

What a crappy week.  
As I  mentioned yesterday, I almost ran this list for yesterday’s “5 Things on a Friday”, but then I saw the article about New Zealand’s flag and the new Voltron promo art, and that was enough to build an article using the usual format, albeit in a limited way.  Regardless, this list is a smattering of what I’ve been watching on television.  If I’ve missed your favorite show, please leave a note and/or recommendation in the comments.
Thanks!

Friday, March 25, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: New Zealand Keeps Its Flag

This was a Hell of a depressing week, news-wise.  I wrote a whole “5 Things” column on my favorite TV shows in protest, but thankfully, yesterday took a turn for the absurd.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

D&D: Demon-Binders & the Circle of the Pit

This week's D&D post is more concept sketch than playable material.  At whatever point I finally put together The Wanderhaven Sourcebook, the Demon-Binder class will most definitely be a part of it.  Several of this article's concepts appear at length in Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto.  However, as of this writing these ideas remain a distinct work-in-progress.  

As you'll see, I borrowed heavily from the Druid and Beastmaster Ranger in building the Demon-Binder.  I hope there are some interesting ideas here, but I should point out that none of this has been playtested--at all.  It might need a little fine-tuning to get it balanced with 5e's extant content.

If you're wondering, the hardest part of this by far was deciding on the Demon-Binder's spell list.  I probably should have written some class-specific spells and designed a couple of magic item to serve as spell-foci for the class, but...  

Eh.  I didn't do any of that.  I'll do that stuff for EN5ider if they ever greenlight the Shadowlord variant of the Anti-Druid.

In the meantime, let me know what you think, folks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 3)

Welcome to week three of the Sneax & Elaina Emboo experiment.  Last week continued to draw readers, so we'll keep it going and hope for the best.

This is my daughter Hannah's cover.
Our Story So Far:
Sneakatara Boatman was abandoned as a child by parents she never knew.  She grew up at the orphanage within Apollo's temple down in Wanderhaven's Docks District.  It was a tough life for a tiny girl with few ways to defend herself, and she lit out as soon as she was able.  But life on the streets is no safer than it was back in the orphanage, and now the loathsome street criminal Russitan Lassiter has Sneax at his mercy.

Elaina Emboo is a rich girl from a nice family, but her controlling father has her entire life mapped out already.  Elaina envies Sneax's freedom without truly understanding its cost.  Still, she agree to help when Sneax asks her to head up to the old church to meet with Lassiter.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Training Log: 3/14 to 3/20 (Week 3 / Power Down)

I spent the week looking for answers.  Coming off two tough training weeks in a row, I reached a level of exhaustion that was simply not productive.  The time change didn't help.  Changing to Daylight Savings Time threw off my sleep cycle, and I'm sure that this contributed at least a little to the way I felt the rest of the week.  On top of that, the week itself was grueling, and there you have it.

I needed rest and wound up taking almost the entire week off.
Swim, Bike, Run
Reality is that this is sometimes necessary.  People say "no pain, no gain", but the truth is subtler than that.  In the long term you're much better off listening to your body.  That's what I tried to do this week, and it helped.  Even so, I still didn't start to feel like myself until Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Workout Notes

I have felt like pure crap this week.  After driving myself into the ground two weeks in a row, the piano finally fell in on me on Monday, and here we are.  I basically did nothing all week.

My daughter Emma's birthday was last night, and we had a ton of ten- and eleven-year-olds over last night.  I made pancakes and then--finally--headed to the gym around 1:30 pm to swim and lift.


I didn't break any records, but after a week of doing jack-shit, it felt good to at least try.

Friday, March 18, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Rise of the "Know Nothings"

It’s been a tough week.  It’s been both busy and confusing, with near-constant frustration and substantial positive reinforcement coming in a constant stream from unexpected angles.  I don’t want to get into the details, but the level of cognitive dissonance in my life is at times deafening.  I hardly know what to think.  It’s hard at times just to parse all the mixed messages.
As we were headed to the gym on Tuesday night, Hannah asked me what was going on.  She’s a perceptive twelve-year-old and a straight-A student.  I told her that I was frustrated, that it seems like people--even people whom I respect a great deal--have shown themselves to be fundamentally self-interested, and that their willingness to tie themselves into knots intellectually in order to believe what’s in their own basic self-interest has been both overwhelming and disheartening.  I tried to explain to her that we have a higher calling, that the fact that she IS a straight-A student and has every advantage gives her a responsibility going forward.  She was not put on this Earth just to be a mother and a veterinarian, if that’s the path that she chooses.  Self-interest and the interests of her family will always be important, yes, but those things will never be as important as her responsibility to society, to her community as a whole.  There is such a thing as service, and though it’s up to each of us to define our own service for ourselves, service just to oneself and one’s family doesn’t actually get us anywhere.  Service to one’s self and family is a truly minimal kind of social responsibility.
Hannah gets it, I think, but I don’t know who else does.  I don’t know who else is teaching this lesson to their kids.
As a society, we’ve made greed a virtue.  College kids look at a film like The Wolf of Wall Street and they see a role model, not a cautionary tale.  We’re all going to be stuck with the consequences of this in time.  These consequences might take a while manifest, but their manifestation will be a real thing.  We will all notice.  We will all live with the consequences.
How much any of this influences my own cognitive dissonance is an open question.  It feels like I’m a hero when people need a hero, and I’m a goat when they need someone to blame or have another hero picked out already.  Meanwhile, I’m always me; I’m the same guy.  I do what I do, and it’s flattering when people notice, and it’s frustrating when they cut me off before giving me so much as a chance to show my strengths.  This is true for everyone, I’m sure, but it’s been really, repeatedly unmistakable these past weeks for me.  As my father used to say, “What you see depends on where you sit.”  It’s weird, though, to be the object of that saying, to have people project whatever they need onto me.
At the end of the day, I have a beautiful wife, two great kids, and a house that I can afford.  I don’t exactly need other people’s approval.  Still, the mixed messages are hard to hear in rapid succession, and at times that makes my personal reality a bit unpredictable.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Leadership

I've just become an official "corporate mentor". It feels funny and a little ironic that suddenly everyone wants me to join their board, lead their group, or otherwise serve the community in some very specific & special way, but... Y'know, it's also very flattering. I want to take it seriously. I'm trying to help. It's just weird that people suddenly seem to think I'm this super-successful guy after what feel to me like a Hell of a lot of years of honest-to-God struggle and self-doubt. 

Anyway, I was ask to define Leadership today.  I said this:

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 2)

Last week's Sneax & Elaina Emboo experiment went pretty well.  Fifty of you fine folks came out last week to read the first chapter of the story, and I sold a couple of books as well.  So far, so good.  Thank you very much for your support.
This is my daughter Hannah's cover.
Our Story So Far:
Sneakatara Boatman was abandoned as a child by parents she never knew.  She grew up at the orphanage within Apollo's temple down in Wanderhaven's Docks District.  It was a tough life for a tiny girl with few ways to defend herself, and she lit out as soon as she was able.  But life on the streets is no safer than it was back in the orphanage, and now the loathsome street criminal Russitan Lassiter has Sneax at his mercy.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Training Log: 3/7 to 3/13 (Week 2)

Another tough week.  I changed my routine a little bit this week, but after Sunday's long run, it's clear that I'm going to have to change it some more.  It's fine to say that I'm not a great runner, that running further is always going to be something of a challenge, either because of my body-type or just because that's how God made me.  However, running long has been much more difficult this training cycle than the last time I trained for a half-marathon, and that feels like a problem.  I'm not exactly sure what to do about it, but I'm going to have to come up with something.
Swim, Bike, Run
The rest of the week was okay.  I only managed to hit the pool once, but I got into the weight room twice, managing my full schedule with my daughter.  That's a plus.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday News & Notes: Class Crests & Other Stories...

Good morning, everyone!  Welcome to daylight savings time!

I love DST.  It's so much easier to get to evening workouts when the sun is still up.

So.  It's not quite 8:30 am, and already we're having a good day.  Let's get to it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Presidential News & Notes

I'm not doing this much on Friday, so here:


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 1)

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo currently exist in two parts, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki and Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto.  I've even started working on a third book in this series, tentatively titled "Sneakatara Boatman & the Mystery of Mordecai's Monster".  If you're familiar with my D&D work, you may realize that this next book is intended, at least in part, as a novelization of an adventure I wrote for EN5ider called, "The Mystery of Mordecai's Monster".

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo
My daughter Hannah drew this cover.  
So far, so good.

Here's the problem: small press publishing--especially self-publishing--is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  That's fine.  I have a job, and I think it would be a rather considerable mixed blessing to have to write full-time.  However, sales of my books have slowed in the last couple of months, and while it's true that I'm not doing this to try to make a million dollars, I would nevertheless like to reach a larger audience.  This isn't news, nor is it any different than what any other writer wants.  Ideally, I'd like to get a contract for future work based on the strength of what I've already written and on the following that I've built through this blog.  The blog is doing okay, and my D&D work has certainly found an audience, but my fiction hasn't yet done its part.

When I started writing these books, I considered running them as Sketch In My Notebook pieces, putting out a chapter each week.  I don't know if that will help these stories find an audience, but at this point, I'm not sure what else to do.  I mean, sure, I could spend my time going to writer's conferences, going hat-in-hand looking for an agent or the one publisher in the world who believes in these stories...

I'm just not good at that sort of thing.  I also cannot afford to waste a lot more time on what is essentially a hobby.  Writing is time-consuming enough as it is.

I mostly write these stories for my kids.  I hope that you like them, too, and if you're a fan of Dungeons & Dragons, I think there's a good chance that you will.

Enjoy!  And if you get a chance, please let me know what you think.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Training Log: 2/29 - 3/6 (Week 1)

Tough week.  I was busy as Hell.  At work, at home, as a writer, as the new Information Systems Officer (ISO) for the West Point Class of 1995...  In every facet of my life, there is a lot going on.

This was also a Week 1 training week, and I tried to hit it pretty hard.  I might have even overdone it a bit.
Swim, Bike, Run
I finally told my wife Sally late yesterday afternoon that the next time I decide to do Mossa Group Power endurance weight training the day before a long run, she needs to stop me.  That combination is a damned nightmare.  Seriously, pain may be weakness leaving the body, but at a certain point, it leaves psychological scars on its way out.

My week looked like this:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

#GoArmy 2016!

Friday, March 4, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Let's Move On...

I had this revelation on Thursday afternoon, by which time the entirety of this column had already been written, unfortunately.  I’m not sure that I now have time to completely change the editorial tone of this thing in the hour it’s going to take my train to get into the City, but I am certainly going to try.
As always, my father’s advice is relevant this morning.  He was no genius, but he had a folksy kind of wisdom and the outgoing personality of a natural-born leader.  I miss him quite a lot these days, but I am also keenly aware of how disappointed he would be in this great country he spent his life defending.  He would have said two things about the current situation, neither of which would have been original.  First, “What you see depends on where you sit.”  Second, “Never wrestle with a pig.  You get dirty, and the pig likes it.”  Instead, he would have advised to “Kill ‘em with kindness,” which, if you’ve never seen it before, is more or less what Bernie Sanders has been doing.